Archer Daniels Midland Company today celebrated its fifth year of working with West African farmers to produce higher-quality cocoa crops through the company’s Socially and Environmentally Responsible Agricultural Practices (SERAP) program. One of the world’s first sustainable cocoa programs, SERAP encourages farming cooperatives to work together to address social and environmental issues and offers financial incentives to help implement sustainable agricultural practices.
In 2005, ADM worked with West African farming cooperatives to develop the innovative SERAP program to meet customer requests for sustainable cocoa that was both traceable and auditable. In 2010, the program distributed US$1.25 million in funding to cooperatives and their members in Côte d’Ivoire, raising the total amount provided to participating cooperatives to more than US$4.5 million.
David Loué, ADM senior agronomist in Cote d’Ivoire, comments: “These incentives provide cooperatives and individual farmers with access to crop protection and agricultural and business training. They also help improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their families through investments in local education and healthcare initiatives – all of which contribute to a better quality of life for growers and their communities.”
Participation in the SERAP program has tripled since its implementation in 2005 and has provided almost 49,000 metric tons of sustainable cocoa during this time. During the initial 2005-2006 growing year, six cooperatives with approximately 6,000 farmer members participated, delivering 4,000 metric tons of cocoa. During the 2009-2010 growing year, the number of participating cooperatives grew to 49, representing more than 18,000 farmers who together delivered more than 14,000 metric tons of sustainable SERAP cocoa. Moreover, an analysis of cocoa bean quality has shown that SERAP participants regularly produce better cocoa beans with lower moisture levels.
The SERAP program offers a unique pre-certification platform allowing ADM customers to select the certification system that best suits their brand. The program is audited annually by the Bureau Veritas Group, and performance guidelines are based upon four areas: Cooperative Governance, Quality Management, Social Responsibility and Environmental Protection.
The SERAP program is also designed to promote social responsibility. ADM’s experts provide cocoa farmers with information and resources to educate growers on appropriate labor practices, promote the safe use of farm chemicals, and educate cocoa farmers and their families about disease prevention.