Blommer Chocolate, North America's largest processor of cocoa beans and ingredient chocolate products, announced recently the expansion of the company's sustainable farming initiatives with a new program in West Africa. This program (called CIFOB) will focus on cocoa farmers in Cote d'Ivoire.
According to Peter Blommer, COO of the company, "CIFOB is introducing programs to farmers focused on teaching modern farming and business techniques that will help improve the yields and quality of Cote d'Ivoire's cocoa crops. Based on our experience in Indonesia we would expect to see significant improvements in family incomes due to gains in crop yields and improved market access. The program will also advance safer labor practices."
In Indonesia, more than 15,000 farmers benefited from SAFOB in 2007, the program's second year of operation. Among the results have been increases in family incomes of 20-55% through higher crop yields and quality premiums. Seeing the tremendous impact of the Indonesian program, it was an easy decision to introduce the program in West Africa."
CIFOB has started working with 15 cooperatives throughout the cocoa growing regions of Cote d'Ivoire. Farmers are trained in techniques to revitalize their cocoa farms and to improve cocoa quality. "Simple technology can go a long way in helping farmers improve their incomes," noted Kip Walk, Director of Blommer's Cocoa Department. "For instance, we have introduced a greenhouse type structure called a solar dryer to the cooperatives. The dryers provide a weather proof, natural method of properly drying cocoa beans, which allows the farmer to create a consistent product for the marketplace." These dryers were first used [by Blommer] as part of a Blommer sponsored program in Ecuador that resulted in a 30-40% increase in farmer incomes.