AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS — Co-operative Agricole de Fiedifoue and Coopaga — two cocoa producing farmer co-operatives in the Ivory Coast — have become the first to become certified under the Utz Certified cocoa sustainability program. The program’s goal is to ensure good agricultural, environmental and social practices in cocoa production, and it enables small-scale farmers to improve their farming practices in a way that allows for production of higher quality crops with increased productivity.

The co-operatives received their certification after working with Utz Certified founding members Cargill and Solidaridad as part of an intensive eight month training program. The first Utz Certified sustainable cocoa is expected to be available by the end of this year.

"For many years we have run training programs for farmers believing it is the best way to bring sustainability — in all senses of the word — into the supply chain," said Harold Poelma, managing director for cocoa, Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate. "This certification endorses our belief in the importance of sustainable agricultural practices and is a great achievement by the farmers and the co-operatives. We are delighted."

Yao Konan, general secretary of the Fiedifoue co-operative, said he has seen significant change at the co-operative’s cocoa farms since beginning the certification process, including healthier trees and cleaner farms.