Global agribusiness giant Cargill says that over 9,500 cocoa farmers in Cameroon have received more than €1.4M (US$1.6M) in premium payments under the Cargill Cocoa Promise.

“These payments directly reflect the growing appetite of customers for certified cocoa products,” the company said in a press released on 7 September.

The Cargill Cocoa Promise was launched in 2012 to promote a transparent and sustainable global cocoa supply chain and improve the income and living standards of farmers and their communities across five origin countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Indonesia, Ghana and Brazil.

Cargill said its efforts on the ground had become more advanced in the last year training nearly 21,000 cocoa farmers at over 600 farmer fields’ schools and building 11 boreholes for local communities to increase access to potable drinking water.

Its premium payments are made to certified farmer cooperatives with 50% going directly to individual members, and the remainder being invested in projects that boost productivity or farm development for the farmer organisation or projects that will benefit the wider community.

“For Cameroon, this has so far included boreholes, 100 scholarships, 10 cassava grinding machines for womens’ groups and credit/discount schemes for crop protection products.”

Premiums are paid by Cargill as part of the joint venture Telcar but include a contribution from Cargill’s customers that purchase certified products globally.

A priority was to further develop and professionalise farmer organisations.

“In March 2016, the Cargill Coop Academy was established in Cameroon, based on the highly successful model in Cote d’Ivoire,” the company said. “The academy provides business education and is on target to train over 900 executives from 227 farmer organisations over four years.”

Cargill said Cameroon was the fourth largest producer of cocoa beans globally after Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia.