The Chocolate Life

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The high cost for farmers of organic and fair trade certifications

As a chocolate maker working with Jamaican farmers who were interested in organic certification, we were astonished to find out that certification that allows such designation on their/my label costs a farmer $2500 per year.  There is no way the farmers I work with could ever afford that.  Even if they form a cooperative, the coop would have to be huge to spread that sufficiently and then the chances of one farm endangering the certification increases. 

Local certification from the Jamaican Organic Ag Movement is a lot less but evidently not recognized internationally.  I think we need to have some effort put into standardizing requirements and allowing locals to do certification and maybe that would reduce the cost of transportation and lodging that these European, US and Canadian certifiers charge.  I'm assuming that is the reason for the high cost.

I'm interested in whether anyone else working with farmers has explored this.

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As a small chocolatier, I agree completely. The cost on my end is similar and it's very challenging if you wish to remain small and not take on debt. My little crew (including me) make a modest earning working very hard and there is simply not earnings to afford certification. Most of our ingredients are organic or grown locally without pesticides and my customers trust us and we are transparent in how we run our business.
mimi at


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