The Atlantic Cocoa Export and Processing Company (ACPEC), Friday, November 12, 2021, announced its receipt of Organic Certification designation from KIWA BCS OkO Garantie GmbH, one of Europe's top organic certification agents.
Clemenceau Urey, owner and CEO of ACPEC says that the certification came after two years of rigorous screening exercise required by KIWA BCS OKO Garantie GmbH.
“ACPEC started the application process back in 2018. It has been a long process but worth it in the end,” said Urey during the announcement ceremony held at ACPEC headquarters in Congo Town.
Organic Certification is given after a series of inspections and validation, which ensure that the product or raw materials used in products were naturally produced without any chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Often, farmers and processors book an organic certification agent and make a request to obtain a certificate. The organic certification agent then carries out a rigorous inspection process to see if the applicant stands as per the guidelines for authentication and is in compliance with the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations and standards.
Urey further adds that the acquisition of the Organic Certificate status will boost the reputation of Liberia’s cocoa sector, thus benefiting farmers and exporters.
“The quality of cocoa produced and sold on the world market by Liberia will improve as well as provide a positive image of our reputation as a quality cocoa destination,” he explained. “Improved quality will lead to improved prices and, therefore, improved income for farmers. [Also,] for exporters, the trend in the demand for organic cocoa is on the rise. Organic certification, therefore, as a form of branding makes sense to surpass the competition,” he says.
In Liberia, farmers are arguably producing organic cocoa since most lack the cash to acquire inorganic fertilizers or pesticides. Although this is one major requirement to obtain the organic certification, they stand a lower chance because of the high cost attached to obtaining organic certification.
In poor developing countries, it is the governments that undertake such efforts as a means of improving the enabling environments for farmers to improve their incomes and their lives.
However, Urey says his company is willing to work with farmers and other exporters in the cocoa sector. “ACPEC will not be selfish and try to monopolize this achievement. We will work with all exporters and other stakeholders who would like to work with us,” he says.
ACPEC, according to Urey, has registered and trained 2,150 farmers in Bong and Nimba Counties on Best Management Practices (BMP) accepted in other parts of the world. He adds that such is one of the preconditions to obtaining the receipt of organic certification.
“Preparing for organic certification entails training of farmers in Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) and its post-harvest protocols for fermentation and drying,” he says.