Two cocoa producing farmer co-operatives in the Côte d'Ivoire have been certified under the cocoa sustainability programme.

Co-operative Agricole de Fiédifoué and Coopaga received the first UTZ Certified cocoa certificates after working with Cargill and Solidaridad, both founding members of the programme, the companies said today (10 September).

The eight-month programme trained 1,590 farmers in "responsible and sustainable agriculture practices", building on the work with cocoa farmers that Cargill has been undertaking in West Africa for a number of years.

The certifications were completed following independent audits and are awarded on an annual basis. The first UTZ Certified sustainable cocoa will be available by the end of 2009.

The aim of the cocoa programme is to ensure "good agricultural, environmental and social practices in cocoa production".  It enables small-scale farmers to improve their farming practices, thereby producing a higher quality crop with increased productivity. 

Harold Poelma, managing director of Cocoa, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate said: "For many years we have run training programmes for farmers believing it is the best way to bring sustainability - in all senses of the word - into the supply chain. 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."