14 Jun 2022

In Côte d’Ivoire, Fairtrade and Farmforce Scale-Up ‘Fair Data’ Partnership for Cocoa Farmers

The expanded partnership will now reach 25 Ivorian cocoa coops delivering critical data ownership technology and ‘first mile’ traceability.

BONN, Germany / OSLO, NorwayAn innovation-driven partnership launched by Fairtrade International, Fairtrade Africa, and digital solutions provider Farmforce will extend the deployment of a smart data management system to more than two dozen cocoa cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire in a pioneering effort to empower cooperative data ownership, provide cocoa traceability, and strengthen their role as trading partners, the organizations today confirmed.

Initially launched as a pilot in April 2021, the partnership between Fairtrade and Farmforce enables cooperatives to implement a digitalised Internal Management System, or IMS, to collect data on members’ farms, production, and sales, and enable them to better manage prominent risks such as deforestation.

The partnership expansion, inaugurated just last month, will now see an additional 25 cooperatives engaged with Farmforce’s proprietary technology with nearly 400 people trained on how to use the software for optimizing efficiency for the cooperatives and their members.

“Our primary mission during this scale-up phase is to ensure that the involved cooperatives are enabled to use Farmforce effectively, leading to long-term benefits for their businesses and for their members,” said Jon Walker, Senior Advisor for Cocoa at Fairtrade International.

“Ultimately, the focus for us is to ensure greater efficiency in cooperative management based on the principles of Fair Data, or the implementation of fairness in data distribution and ownership.”

The scale-up effort is jointly funded by Fairtrade and PRO-PLANTEURS – a joint project by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, German Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture, German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa and the Ivorian Conseil du Café-Cacao. In addition, a number of the producer organizations that implement the Farmforce technology will receive assistance from Fairtrade Africa, with the financial support of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM).

Farmforce’s unique technology provides cooperatives with their own superior cocoa beans production traceability system for the first mile of the food supply chain including the capacity to map farms and manage that data. This is combined with a data collection tool that enables cooperatives to acquire data on their members' households, productivity, and training. The data collected assists cooperatives in assessing risks such as deforestation and child labour for their members as well as improving the cooperatives’ business operations.

“Our digital solutions provide organizations with the confidence to secure sustainable sourcing, improve farmer quality of life, and protect the environment. Together with Fairtrade we are giving the cooperatives the ability to own their data and professionally manage the information they share with their customers,” Anne Jorun Aas, CEO at Farmforce, explained.

“The cooperatives can use Farmforce to properly manage their records and activities and then use that data for the benefit of their farmer members, and also to be in a stronger position with their commercial partners,” she added.

The ability of cooperatives to assess risks will also help them maintain, and potentially grow, market access in Europe and elsewhere as governments increasingly implement human rights and environmental due diligence and deforestation regulations. Access to these markets is critical for the cooperatives and their members' household incomes which largely rely on cocoa farming.

“Because of existing logistical challenges, an extensive and high-quality training on Farmforce’s digital solutions will be really beneficial to our cooperative for collecting the information needed, streamlining our certification processes, and accessing new markets,” noted Louis Sosthene B., a participating trainee from the Coop CA ECAPR.

“Considering the increasing stakes in the sector and impending stricter regulations, digitizing our farms is a step we need to take to improve our activity and the living conditions of the producers.”

This article was revised after publication to clarify the project's funding.