Maret School Visits WCF
Today, the World Cocoa Foundation hosted 16 students and two teachers from the Maret School (www.maret.org). Maret's field trip to our office was part of a globalization course being taught by Mr. Bill Braveman. As luck would have it, Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) Nigeria Country Coordinator, Mr. Chris Okafor, was in Washington and joined us. He described in detail the "farmer field schools" and other efforts underway to empower small-scale cocoa farmers in West Africa. Here is a copy of our presentation.
Overall, I was very impressed by the depth of questions and their interest and understanding the students had of the cocoa supply chain. One student had even been to Ghana recently.
1. What is the role of the industry members in World Cocoa Foundation, beyond financial contributions?
WCF industry members help to finance the programs, as well as to provide technical input. Companies do not own farms, but some have experts in agronomy, bean quality, and post harvest handling, who can help farmers enhance their yields, quality and marketing practices.
Chris Okafor described in detail, the West Africa program which are helping many small scale farmers. Graduates of the "farmer field schools" report income improvements of 22-50%. They also use fewer pesticides and follow safer farmer practices. A new phase of the Sustainable Tree Crops Program (STCP) will reach over 150,000 farmers in West Africa in the next five years. Countries who are benefiting from the program include: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Liberia.
2. How can West African governments be trusted to report accurately on labor certification?
The certification process is being carried out under the leadership of the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast, in partnership with industry, non-government organizations, and local community groups. The results of certification will be overseen by an independent third party group with expertise in rural agriculture and auditing mechanisms. This group will Verify that the process followed and the results presented are objective and accurate. The target is to certify 50 percent of the cocoa growing area by July 2008. An in depth description of can be found under the certification section of this website.
3. What is meant by farm level diversification?
"Farm diversification" refers to planting cocoa with other tree crops, timber, and food crops. There are two main benefits to encouraging farmers to diversify their cocoa farms. First of all, it enables farmers to have different sources of income from timber, coconut, rubber, citrus, food crops, instead of relying on cocoa as their only income. Secondly, crop diversity is better for the fragile soils and environment where cocoa grows.
4. What is "side-grafting", and how does it work?
Side grafting involves taking a branch from one tree, and inserting it into the root or trunk of another tree. This technique is used commonly on apples, oranges and other fruit crops to bring together the superior qualities from different varieties. The method can is easily taught to farmers, and results in improved yielding trees that are more resistant to diseases and pests. I found the following website, for those of you who would like to see various forms of tree grafting. http://www.ext.nodak.edu/county/cass/horticulture/fruit/graft/graft.htm Below is a photograph of Dr. David Lim, World Cocoa Foundation consultant, showing cocoa farmers the technique on a farm.