Revolutionizing cocoa farming: CML urges farmers to embrace digital future

Cocoa Merchant Company (CML) has entreated cocoa farmers to take advantage of government’s digital reforms, such as the ‘Ghana Card’, to prepare for the digital economy since it is crucial for their long-term sustainability and efficiency.

Given that CML is committed to promoting the penetration of digital financial payment services among cocoa farmers, the Managing Director (MD) of CML, Alhaji Abdul Fataa Adamu, especially insisted that cocoa farmers who have not yet registered should do so to help the company’s efforts.

To this end, he announced that CML is targetting to pay 30 percent of farmers’ sustainability differential (SD) (also known as premium) through mobile money platforms. This is after undertaking rigorous verification and validation on their mobile money accounts with operating telcos, which will progressively increase in the coming years, he added.

The MD of CML was addressing cocoa farmers during the 2022/23 season launch of Beyond Beans Foundation and Cocoa Merchants Sustainable Cocoa programme for farmers at Twapease (under the Bekwai cocoa district of CML) in the Ashanti Region, and also noted other interventions planned.

“We pledge to commit more funding in collaboration with our partners during the coming season, with innovative sustainability interventions to realise the living income and ultimately improve farmers’ livelihood,” he stated.

It is understood that the introduction of digital tools can enhance productivity, market access and traceability in the cocoa industry, benefiting both farmers and consumers.

Because of this, it has become essential for farmers to embrace technology and gain digital literacy to remain competitive in the evolving agricultural landscape.

Alhaji Abdul Fataa Adamu, for instance, noted that CML has upscaled its digital traceability and farm polygon mapping through 100 percent digitalisation of its standard operating procedures and quality assurance systems.

This, he said, was done as part of their commitment to fully comply with the European Union Deforestation Regulations (EUDR) due diligence.

“In this direction, ETG Beyond Beans, CML partnership with Ferrero, Farm Force and Merge Data Applications will realise our ambitious vision in the 2023/24 season implementing full-scale sourcing and farm polygon mapping traceability,” he said.

Also, he mentioned that the sustainable cocoa programme started in 2013 with Export Trading Group (ETG), Beyond Beans and other strategic clients, namely Nestle, Ferrero and Mars.

This was at 5 sourcing districts in Ashanti, Western and Central Regions which involved about 11,886 cocoa farmers, impacting some 23,772 households in the supply chain, it was added.

So far, he said, the partnership with ETG Beyond Beans has yielded a lot of positive impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and environmental conservation through addressing the drivers of deforestation and climate change, Child-labour identification, monitoring and remediation and empowering communities.

“We are committed to supporting our cherished farmers to improve on their livelihoods and incomes as we urge them to keep faith with ETG Beyond Beans and CML, so that they can continue to benefit from the various sustainability interventions we are implementing.”

Despite the challenges of COVID-19 to cocoa production, in the 2022/23 season CML delivered physical cocoa of 10,188.37 metric tonnes (mt) to ETG Beyond Beans, of which 9,550mt – being 94 percent of the produce – was traded.

The expected sustainability differential (SD) of US$668,500 which translates into US$70 per metric tonne in the prevailing interbank exchange rates of GH₵11.20 went directly to the 11,886 certified farmers who participated and successfully complied with the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard.

In line with this, a total amount of GH₵3,576,200 was announced as SD to be paid farmers at Twapease under the Bekwai cocoa district of CML for the 2022/23 cocoa purchase.

Other stakeholders in the cocoa sub-sector, including representatives of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) and traditional leaders, took turns advising the farmers to commit to helping improve cocoa yields of the country.

The cocoa farmers were particularly urged to abide by good agronomic practices and desist from selling their farmlands for galamsey activities, as well as indulging in the smuggling of cocoa beans to neighbouring countries.