SAMCERT lending support to Fairtrade certified cocoa cooperatives in Sierra Leone
In Sierra Leone SAMCERT is working with IFAD’s Rehabilitation and Community Based Poverty Reduction Project (RCPRP) which is focused on achieving significant results in terms of the rehabilitation of cocoa production in that country.
When the war in Sierra Leone ended, it was clear that strong external assistance was critically needed to allow for a return to pre-war levels of livelihood and agricultural production and indeed to improve economic, social and environmental conditions; accordingly, the RCPRP was designed with the aim of improving the livelihoods and living conditions of rural communities and households – particularly those headed by women and devoted to cocoa production.
SAMCERT is supporting three cooperatives operating in the Kono, Kailahun and Kenema districts that have come together under the umbrella of a cocoa export company, the Kayeigorma Company. Kayeigorma has also received valuable support from the World Bank in its efforts to move toward sustainable production and certification.
After an initial Scoping Mission in February 2012, SAMCERT and RCPRP provided timely support, to the Kayeigorma cooperatives by way of a training workshop in September 2012 designed to prepare the cooperatives for Fairtrade Inspection.
The participants, many of whom were refugees during Sierra Leone’s decade long civil war, proved to have an in-depth understanding of the Fairtrade concept and its standards; the training eventually lead to Fairtrade certification in December 2012 and consequently the sale of cocoa at a premium Fairtrade price in the spring of 2013.
In an effort to assist the cooperatives in further developing their production and business development SAMCERT enlisted the support of a leading Italian cocoa company to test the Kayeigorma cocoa with an eye to identifying both its strengths and quality management issues to be addressed.
Thereafter, an Internal Control System (ICS) training workshop (Fairtrade and Organic) was organised in July 2013 the aim of which was to train local field supervisors and inspectors to support and monitor the entire certification process, for both Fair trade and eventual Organic certifications.
SAMCERT’s efforts in Sierra Leone have demonstrated that sustainable certification can be a valuable tool for market access and to support a fair system of production. SAMCERT will continue to support the development of the RCPRP cooperatives by linking them up with exporters and buyers in order to diversify their market partnerships.
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