Community farm schools

Profile:

Ecookim & Coopaako
Product focus: Cocoa
Location: Côte d’Ivoire
Type: Small-scale producers – 2,262 farmers & 758 farmers respectively
Fairtrade certified since: 2008 and 2010 respectively
Contact:
Ecookim – Mamadou Savané, tel +225 58616142; Coopaaako – Ms Sopie Atsé, tel +225 41603326

Challenge

Farmers from Ecookim and Coopaako have benefited greatly from pesticides supplied by Côte d’Ivoire’s government. However, despite the disappearance of the pests over time the output stayed low. High illiteracy rates amongst the farmers contributed to improper application of the pesticides, putting them at risk as they couldn’t read the safety precautions on the bottles. Management of the two cooperatives intervened but the results were minimal. Most farmers continued storing the pesticides in their homes, oblivious of the risks they were exposing themselves to.

Solution

To obtain Fairtrade certification, both organisations had to make major changes. But it didn’t stop there. After receiving their first Fairtrade premium, Ecookim and Coopaako decided to invest the money in further professional training. In collaboration with the chemical companies, the cooperatives set up community farm schools where farmers were trained on proper use of pesticides. Other training topics included Good Agricultural Practices, environmental management and the use of fertilizers. During the farm schools, producers were also further inducted on Fairtrade standards and working conditions.

In addition, Ecookim and Coopaako supplied their producers with protective clothes and atomizers (a device for converting chemicals to a fine spray). Regular medical check-ups were set up for those who come in contact with pesticides. Coopaako decided to construct its central chemical storage room 14 km away from residential areas. The cooperative also appointed an environmental activities supervisor.

Costs

A big investment, the organisations used the Fairtrade premiums to cover some of the main costs, including the training, salary payment of 21 producers who apply the pesticides, cost of motorcycles and fuel for the farm control agents and cost of medication.

Click here for a breakdown of the expenses.

Results

The training has become a yearly programme and all farmers are now educated on the proper application of pesticides. They now successfully tackle pests while maintaining higher yields, while protecting their health.