The Rainforest Alliance told C&CI that it welcomes a new position paper from the VOICE Network entitled ‘Certification is not the systemic solution to unsustainable cocoa.’
“We believe the positions expressed in the paper help to inform our continued efforts to bring the cocoa sector in West Africa to a more sustainable reality,” said RA. Responding to VOICE Network, Fairtrade said last week that it also welcomed the call for all certification schemes to introduce a minimum price and fixed premium for cocoa in order to prevent a race to the bottom on cocoa prices.
“Low prices in cocoa are a grave, sector-wide challenge and one that is not restricted to certification,” said RA. “Our approach to raising farmer incomes focuses on good agriculture practices that enable cocoa farmers to increase their productivity, achieving higher yields with lower costs, enabling them to produce better quality crops.
“In Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana minimum prices are fixed by government and adjusted every few months, but they are based on fluctuating global cocoa prices.
“Due to a variety of factors, including oversupply, global market prices are low. In response, the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments recently decided to set their floor price jointly. This is an important step.
“The issue of pricing has been a key consideration in the future Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard, which we began developing following our merger with UTZ in January 2018. Our aim is to develop a certification system that rewards investment in sustainable practices across all sectors.
“The Rainforest Alliance 2020 standard will have a mandatory premium. However, we are aware that simply requiring a premium is not enough. We have therefore decided that in addition to the mandatory requirement of a premium, we will be providing sector specific guidance in all our priority sectors including cocoa.
“We believe a ‘one size fits all’ approach will fail to deliver sustainable impacts as the realities and challenges are different for all actors in the supply chain. The goal is to have a pricing policy that rewards investment in sustainable practices.
“Systemic issues and long-standing power imbalances in global supply chains can only be effectively remedied through sustained engagement and cooperation among all relevant actors. We take our role in that context very seriously and are working with key stakeholders to address the serious ongoing challenges that are prevalent in the cocoa sector.”
Rainforest Alliance said it is committed to doing its part to make responsible business the new normal. “We believe we have a shared responsibility along with all actors in the global supply chain including governments, companies and NGOs to address these challenges and to work together to bring the cocoa sector to a more sustainable reality,” it told C&CI.
“Rainforest Alliance believes that certification is one tool among many,” it concluded. “It works best when tailored to meet farmers’ needs and is supported by long-term commitments from all actors in the supply chain.”
The Rainforest Alliance 2020 Standard is now in its second round of public consultations and will be published in early 2020. For more information on the public consultation, see here.