Omoa, Cortes, Hondura.- In October 2013 the San Fernando Cacao Cooperative achieved, as the first organization in Honduras, the organic certification for cacao.
The San Fernando de Omoa Cacao Cooperative was founded in 2007 with support from FUNDER. In 2010 arose the initiative for organic certification with the assistance from FUNDER and Helvetas. The certification process usually requires a transition period of three years so that crops can be recovered from conventional crop management. As agrochemicals were never applied, the cooperative was able to shorten this phase to two years through a retroactive recognition.
FUNDER, through the SAG/USDA/IICA Food for Progress Program, trained producers in the principles of organic agriculture and supported the cooperative in the implementation of an Internal Control System (ICS), a requirement for group certification. Through an ICS the cooperative internally checks 100% of the producers, which allows the certification body (Biolatina) to audit with only a sampling. Thanks to the ICS the costs of certification can be lowered significantly.
FUNDER developed for each producer a folder with lists and records requested by the certifier and through training cycles educated them in its use. FUNDER also trained two technicians who now act as internal inspectors. Inspectors visit all producers at their farms at least once a year to determine compliance with organic standards. In case there are violations, inspectors propose corrective measures that producers must implement.
Especially in the initial phase, the producers needed plenty of support, as most did not have the habit of writing down the work that they carried out on the farm.
After two years of successful transition and meeting the organic standards of the European Union (EC 834/2007 and 889/2008) during audits, Biolatina awarded an organic certification to Cacao San Fernando in October 2012and renewal in October 2013.
With the certification, Cacao San Fernando has the ability to market their quality "A" cocoa as Certified Organic.
The current client from Switzerland rewards this added value with an additional payment of US$300 per ton.
The certificate enables Cacao San Fernando to establish a long term business relationship with the current client. It also provides access to emergent organic cocoa markets.
In addition to the economic incentives, organic certification has a positive impact on the environment, because producers have to implement natural measures (not using fertilizers and pesticides).