At Tradin Organic Agriculture, we specialize in delivering the most sustainable and ethically produced organic cocoa products. Our Technical Assistance programs help smallholder farmers adopt sustainable practices, boost biodiversity and yields, resulting in improved livelihood of rural communities.
For Tradin Organic, going beyond organic is core in every activity. Helping farming communities is pivotal in our sourcing projects, and the organic cacao sourcing project in Sierra Leone was no exception. In the past three years, Tradin Organic has implemented a project of Technical Assistance to help our organic cacao farmers upgrade their plantations and boost their productivity.
Three main initiatives were set up to achieve this:
- Reviving the old and neglected cacao plantations to increase productivity
- Creating Farmer Field Schools (FFS) to educate and empower the local farmers
- Implementing a Child Protection Program that addresses poverty and increases awareness of children's rights.
The field improvements consisted of two key actions: replanting, for which we imported large quantities of cacao seeds and assisted the farmers to nourish, plant and bring them to maturity. The second was pruning, the process of shaping the tree and cutting the branches back to increase productivity.
Today, 5,082 smallholder cacao farmers have already benefited from cacao seedlings nursed and distributed across the districts of Kailahun, Kono, Kenema, Tonkolili, Koinadugu and Bo.
Alongside these activities, we created a widespread Farmer Field School (FFS) system, where our Technical Assistance team trains local farmers. FFS is a participatory method of learning and includes demonstration fields and interactive training on organic production principles. In collaboration with Ecotop, we conducted extensive training on agroforestry, cacao farm maintenance and rehabilitation for our smallholder cocoa farmers across our operational areas.
More than 10.000 farmers have benefited from this assistance and deepened their knowledge in farm establishment, expansion, rehabilitation and more. We are proud to currently have 153 operational Farmer Field Schools.
“We are happy with the increase in our cacao revenues due to Tradin’s Technical Assistance and training, especially on good and effective agricultural practices.” - Farmers from Sierra Leone undergoing the training programs.
Training farmers in organic practices allows them to increase their living wages and obtain certifications such as organic, Fair Trade and Regenerative Organic. Besides training, the Technical Assistance team supports these farmers in receiving certifications on income and increasing the yields, which ultimately leads to a higher income.
When Tradin Organic first started being active in the cocoa value chain in Sierra Leone, an unbalanced market was prominent. The prices were extremely low, and farmers didn’t have diverse outlets for their cocoa production. But today, with more players on the market like Tradin Organic, the farmers have been able to sell their cacao production at a higher price with premiums and increase their livelihoods. In recent years, an estimation of 10 million dollars per year goes extra to smallholder farmers.
Looking ahead, the Technical Assistance programs will work towards strengthening the Farmer Cooperatives and the Farmer Field Schools, with a special focus on regenerative Agroforestry systems, certifications and carbon credits to achieve our sustainability goals.
“Through Technical Assistance and Certification Schemes we made a significant contribution to farmers’ socio-economic position and the cacao sector in Sierra Leone.” - Peter Pijpers, General Manager SL
By providing steady incomes and proper housing for farmers, nursery managers, account managers, field officers and more, we have been able to improve their living conditions, avoid indebtedness and ensure education for their children.
Going beyond organic is at the core of Tradin Organic, so in addition, we created a Child Protection Program to help prevent child labour incidences on our organic cacao farms.
In collaboration with Child Fund Sierra Leone, IQSMA Solutions, local authorities and children welfare committees, the program protects and empowers children. To ensure long-term change, we developed a continuous monitoring and remediation system, as well as a “Village Saving and Loans Associations'' to enable farmers to finance their cocoa activities. Tradin Organic will continue with constant efforts to strengthen community awareness of children's welfare and youth empowerment through different activities such as conducting monthly radio discussions on Child Labour, supporting District and Chiefdom Child Protection coordination meetings and more.
But none of this could happen without our key partners. The Technical Assistance programs count on the support of Tradin Organic, AgDevCo, Cocoa Origins, Child Fund Sierra Leone, Netherlands Enterprise Agency, and Tradin Organic customers.
We are committed to empowering cocoa farmers to increase marketable cacao production. Through the organic and social certifications, we have been able to create a successful path in the cacao sector in an ethical, sustainable and organic way. We will continue our efforts and set our eyes on the future with new goals and partners.