Netherlands To Support Sustainable Cocoa

The Cocoa Abrabopa Association and the Netherlands Embassy have engaged in a three-year partnership to double the size of the association from 20,000 to 40,000 cocoa farmers by the end of 2014. The Cocoa Abrabopa Association was initiated back in 2005 and became fully operational in 2008. Ever since it has attracted a growing number of smallholder cocoa farmers. Farmers benefit from a complete service package, including agro-input on credit, agronomic assistance and business training. Productivity and revenue for farmers under the Association have dramatically increased. In 2010, certification was rolled out to the first 4,000 farmers. The objective is to have at least half of all members certified by 2014. To reach its objectives, the Cocoa Abrabopa Association will benefit from a grant of GHC7.1 million over the three years. �The grant should allow the Association to become fully self-sustainable,� explains Harry van Dijk, Head of Cooperation at the Netherlands Embassy in Accra, �The business model established by the Association is a good example where productivity increases can finance the required input and investments, even at farm-level. Obviously, initial training, certification and association building are expensive in the beginning. That is where we come in.� The partnership is concluded as part of a large cocoa mission from the Netherlands to Ghana. �The Netherlands is for decades among Ghana�s most important trading partners for cocoa,� says Marcel Vernooij, mission leader from the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. �Within ten years, we foresee that all cocoa in The Netherlands and many other consumer countries will need to be fully certified. Furthermore, world production and productivity will need to increase with at least another 1 million tons to meet global demand, and most of it will need to come from West-Africa. It is a tall order, but we stand ready to collaborate closely with Ghana to realize the ambitions.� The support to the Cocoa Abrabopa Association is part of a broader range of initiatives that the Netherlands government intends to support over the years, including the Sustainable Trade Initiative and several research projects.