Over 800 cocoa farmers have graduated from Farmer Field Schools launched by Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate in Cameroon, the world’s fourth largest cocoa producer.

In Munyenge, Cameroon, Mr Bernard Okala Bilai, Governor of the South West Region officiated at a ceremony which saw 880 farmers graduate and receive their diplomas. This has made them eligible for independent auditing to become UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certified, which will take place in the coming weeks.

Cargill’s Farmer Field Schools are part of the company’s drive to establish a sustainable future for cocoa. A key aspect of this is providing training to improve yields for farmers, so creating better businesses, and in turn a better standard of living for farmers and their families.

Farmer Field Schools provide training in good and safe practices, focusing on farming techniques and post-harvest activities such as pruning, plantation renewal and cocoa fermentation methods. In addition the programme also stresses broader social aspects, such as the importance of ensuring children’s education and HIV awareness.

Farmer training in Cameroon was launched by Cargill, the largest exporter of cocoa beans from the country, in July 2011. It is delivered in partnership with Telcar, Cargill’s joint venture partner in Cameroon, with input from the World Cocoa Foundation and Socodevi, a Canada-based network of cooperative businesses that supports initiatives for farmers’ organisations in the developing world.

The graduation, which took place on 23 October, was attended by Chief Executive officer of Telcar, Mme Kate Kanyi Tometi Fotso, and Marc Joncheere, Technical & Regulatory Affairs Manager Sustainable Cocoa, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, along with representatives of Socodevi and many other local dignitaries.

Commenting on the graduation Marc Joncheere of Cargill said: “Providing training and support enables farmers to improve yields and quality and through these – increase their incomes. By raising awareness of environmental, health and social issues Cargill’s programme also helps strengthen local farming families and communities.”

Read the full press release here.