Fair trade certification is expected to help Vietnamese cocoa enter the EU market, especially after the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement takes effect (2019), experts have said.
“We’re working closely with fair-trade organisations in Europe and Asia to introduce cocoa products that are manufactured sustainably, respond to climate change, and ensure the rights of workers, women and children,” Nguyen Dac Thang, vice chairman of the Vietnam Cooperative Alliance said. “So far three cooperatives in the Central Highlands region, have been granted fair-trade certification and have started exporting to the European market.“
Krista Verstraelen, chief representative of the Belgian Development Agency (Enabel) in Vietnam, who was present at a meeting with Vietnam Cooperative Alliance, presented a Vietnamese cocoa project that TDC supports. “In 2016, we developed a project for sustainable fair-trade cocoa supply from Vietnam. It included three steps: certification of fair-trade, product and market development, and product monitoring and evaluation,” she said. The project has helped 350 small cocoa-farming households take part in fair-trade supply chains and benefit from fair-trade practices. Under the project, the cooperatives raised awareness about fair trade and learned about fair-trade value that can bring added value to their products. They also become more aware of fair-trade requirements and advanced planting techniques.
Nguyen Xuan Van, chairman of Eakar Cooperative, one of the three participating organisations, said: “In the past, I planted cocoa and worked on my farm without calculating how much money I was spending or making. I listened to advice from a shop on how to use pesticides without knowing why I should use it. I had very little money left after harvesting cocoa,” he added. “But after joining the cooperative, I began to plan better, and after training, I started using a diary to note how much I spent for the farm and what kind of chemicals I used.” Now they trust the quality of their cocoa and they can sell it at a better price.
Fair Trade Asia and Pacific helps local traders find fair-trade markets, while national fair-trade organisations in Belgium, Germany and Italy look for buyers to introduce fair-trade cocoa from Vietnam.