Sustainable Origins™ Strategy
Blommer Chocolate works closely with our customers, suppliers, international organizations and implementation partners on customized sustainability programs. First initiated in 2004, they now cover about 61% of the cocoa we source globally, and 78% of the cocoa we source from West Africa.
As an industry leader, we believe engaging in serious sustainability efforts on the ground in cocoa producing communities benefits the entire value chain. Sustainable Origins™ builds upon existing farming skills and by providing tools and training, we support cocoa farmers and enable them to generate increased household income. We also promote strong farmer organizations and the structure necessary to ensure the traceable, high quality raw materials that our customers demand.
Agricultural Training and Farmer Field Schools
Using proven Farmer Field School (FFS) models, we engage farmers directly, providing a combination of training, materials and techniques to enable farmers to fight pest and disease, and improve farming practices .The Farmer Field School model is applied throughout all Sustainable Origins™ programs.
The FFS cycle is based on the actual crop cycle, with 7 training modules covering pruning, sanitary harvest, weeding, shade tree management and soil fertility, pest and disease control and post-harvest handling. Each year, farmers are encouraged to participate in a FFS organized by their cooperatives and their respective lead farmers or farmer trainers. The lead farmers are extensively trained and live in proximity to their respective farming communities for which they organize FFS as well as individual coaching.
By encouraging the development of a strong network of cooperatives, we aim to promote farmers mutually supporting themselves by sharing knowledge and solving problems for themselves leading to a wide web of good practices on farms throughout our network.
Good Agricultural Practice
Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) training takes place in FFS, where farmers are encouraged to meet on a designated cocoa farm to physically implement recommended practices.
Nowadays FFS are enhanced by individual farmer coaching visits where farmers are advised on what aspects can be improved on their respective farms. The combination of both training approaches starts showing good results. Each coop either has an Agronomist based in the coop or close by. The agronomist oversees and supports the Lead Farmers and ensures best practices are commonly shared.
As pruning among GAP practices is considered the most crucial practice, we have newly introduced pruning teams on cooperative level which are providing services to farmers.
Blommer and its local partners cover the costs associated with training the farmers and providing the training certificate. In addition, for each ton a farmer sells to the cooperative/farmer association, the farmer directly receives a premium from Blommer to engender loyalty and commitment to the process of self-enhancement.
Farmer Business School (FBS)
These schools provide centralized training to specific groups of farmers on the importance of keeping records of sales and costs, basic gross margin analysis, and basic production planning. This is essential in increasing the capacity of farmers to understand the economics of their farms, profitability and relative cost of inputs and farm investments, bringing farmers from subsistence levels to farming as a business.
Farm Development Plans (FDP)
As Lead Farmers accumulate information about respective farmers and their farms they work with farmers on compiling multiyear Farm Development Plans (FDPs). The FDPs are developed as part of the ongoing coaching conducted by Lead Farmers.
Occupational Health & Safety
As part of the Farmer Field Schools, farmers are trained on the safe use and storage of authorized pesticides and the importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).