From Farm to Market: A Cocoa Farmer’s Journey.
Guest Feature from Alison Young – External Communications Assistant- The Rainforest Alliance:
Adrien Koffi Kouadio is a cocoa farmer from Paul Kru, a small village in Côte d’Ivoire. Located in the heart of the rainforest in the cocoa belt of West Africa, Adrien owns a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm. For him and his family cocoa cultivation is a way of life that has been part of his family tradition for generations. Yet despite growing cocoa all his life, Adrien doesn’t know where his beans go once they leave his farm, in fact, he has never even tasted a chocolate bar.
The Rainforest Alliance, together with the production company Nice & Serious, set out to share Adrien’s story with the world. This summer, the crew packed their bags, jumped on a plane and jetted off to Côte d’Ivoire to make the film ‘The Man Behind Your Chocolate’. This light-hearted, funny and engaging film showcases the life of Adrien in rural Côte d’Ivoire. It gives a rare yet insightful look into the life of a cocoa farmer and allows consumers to see the time, effort and passion that goes in to their farming.
The team also captured footage of Adrien following the journey of cocoa from beans to bar with the final part to the story being filmed this month over here in the UK. At the start of December Adrien embarked on his first trip abroad and was graced with the bright lights and buzzing streets of London. As his journey continued he was able to visit a large chocolate factory to see the process of turning cocoa beans into chocolate and also visited a local supermarket to see the full scale of chocolate on sale. Add in a bit of ice skating at the Natural History Museum, a ride on the London Eye and a visit to his favourite club Chelsea’s football stadium and I think it’s fair to say he has had the time of his life here!
Through Adrien’s journey the film is intended to demonstrate to producers everywhere that they are part of a global movement to make the production of goods and services more sustainable.
Most of the world’s cocoa is grown by farmers like Adrien on small plots of land throughout West Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. The world’s five million smallholder cocoa farmers—many of whom are already struggling with economic hardship—are also contending with the effects of climate change: hotter temperatures, unpredictable rainfall and a shift in growing seasons. Rigorous training in efficient and sustainable farm management is the key to stabilising their microclimate and stopping the destructive cycle of poverty and deforestation.
Adrien’s farm has met the rigorous environmental, social and economic standards as set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN). With his wife, Marie-Laure, they plant new trees to provide shade for his cocoa trees and work side-by-side carefully choosing the best cocoa seeds to dry. With each step, they are building a better life for themselves and their children. Their strong work ethic and determination to not only improve their lives, but ensure they have a sustainable living is admirable and commendable.
Hundreds of thousands of cocoa farmers are safeguarding the health of more than 750,000 hectares (1.86 million acres) of land through our training and certification. The Rainforest Alliance has been working to strengthen the position of smallholder cocoa farmers since 2006—both on the land and in the marketplace—by training them to conserve natural resources, increase productivity and secure decent living and working conditions. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms are audited annually against the criteria that protect biodiversity and foster a culture of respect for workers and local communities.
Farmers who earn the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal protect shade trees, plant native species, maintain wildlife corridors and conserve their natural resources. They reduce their reliance on pesticides in favour of biological and natural alternatives, and they are prohibited from using any banned pesticides.
Thanks to commitments from leading brands like Mars, Unilever, Kraft and Hershey, the Rainforest Alliance’s certification work in Côte d’Ivoire has experienced remarkable growth. Over the last six years, 85,000 Ivorian farms covering 410,000 hectares (more than one million acres) have become Rainforest Alliance Certified. A 2012 study found that net income on these farms was 291 percent higher than on noncertified farms. Companies now recognise that environmental, social and economic sustainability are essential to securing the global cocoa supply—and that Rainforest Alliance certification can help to accomplish these goals.
For more information about the Rainforest Alliance visit: http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/