Who is your hero?
ST: My children are my heroes and anchors. Yes, they do challenge me every day. But at the same time, they teach me that nothing should ever be taken for granted. Every day I realise life is really beautiful and simple, when seen through the eyes of a child. They teach me: The past is gone, the future is yet to come, but the present is already here and we should make the most of it.
You’ve carried out many cocoa audits as an auditor. Did you observe a change in Fairtrade cocoa production over time?
ST: I have observed some changes, mostly in the use of pesticides and other agro-chemicals in cocoa production. The certified producer organisations are becoming more and more conscious of the substances prohibited by the Fairtrade Standards and are working really hard in complying with these requirements. There is a growing awareness in connection with the proper handling of pesticides.
Another thing I have noticed is the fact that the farmers do not resort to burning in order to clear their farmlands. During my earlier audits in 2012/2013, I had seen some farms where the farmers had resorted to burning in order to clear their fields, but since then, I have not come across this practice. Burning fields destroy the soil microbial activity (earthworms, fungi, bacteria, etc) which contribute towards soil fertility; it results in carbon emissions which contribute to global warming; it could even cause devastating bush fires and might destroy other vegetation or endangered species which were not originally targeted.
Curious how we certify Fairtrade cocoa? Follow our auditor Soro Kolotcholohofolo in typical audit situations:
In your experience, are the cocoa farmers aware of the growing public interest in the conditions under which they work?
ST: Yes, the majority of them are aware of the growing public interest in their working conditions. I mean, it is hard to miss it given the speed at which information is able to circulate these days. A lot of them have smart phones and listen to the news. Their cooperatives inform them; there are journalists every now and then making videos and asking them questions. They are familiar with the terms like deforestation, child labour, democracy and participation, traceability, you name it. They are aware of the importance of their cocoa and realise that this is the key to a better life for them.
Stephany Tamhouo is FLOCERT’s Certification Manager Africa. A mother of 6 and a grandmother of 2, Stephany just loves to dance even on her own.