Rainforest alliance certification to transform smallholder farmers’ livelihoods
PRIVATE sectors players continue to heed Government’s call them to participate in agricultural production processes with local consultancy firm, Bolton Compliance Consultancy Group recently taking the initiative to train smallholder farmers and provide them with rainforest alliance certificates to boost conservation of forests.
In an interview yesterday, Bolton Compliance Consultancy Group regulations and compliance consultant Mr Bolton Kudzai Kakava said the rainforest alliance certification scheme would promote responsible land management methods that increase carbon storage while avoiding deforestation, which fuels greenhouse gas emissions.
“Rainforest alliance certification is a social and sustainable certification scheme that was designed to address issues to do with conserving forests and improve farmers’ livelihoods at the same time,” explained Mr Kakava.
Mr Kakava added that the climate-smart practices embedded in the training programmes helped smallholder farmers build resilience to droughts, flooding and problems caused by erosion.
The certification also advanced the rights of smallholder farmers although there is no certification, which can provide a guarantee against human rights abuses, he observed.
The training programmes promote practices for protecting standing forests, preventing expansion of cropland into forests, fostering the health of trees, soils and waterways.
Mr Kakava observed that such ecological powerhouses were critical to the survival of everything on earth.
Added Mr Kakava: “Standing forests are powerful natural climate change mitigating tools. The rainforest alliance certification will provide strategies for assessing and addressing child labour, forced labour, poor working conditions, low wages, gender inequality and the violation of indigenous land rights.”
He hinted that independent studies had shown that workers on certified farms were more likely to have better working conditions, protective gear and labour protections.
Additionally, Mr Kakava said their approach was based on the understanding that ecosystem health and the economic stability of rural areas were mutually dependent highlighting that improving sustainable livelihood opportunities for smallholder farmers and forest communities was the most effective way to lift rural people from poverty.
“Under this scheme, farmers are paid what we call sustainable investment and sustainable differentiation. This is more of a premium that farmers are paid to produce rainforest certified products. If they sell their products to rainforest alliance certified supply chains organisation or company, they will be paid sustainable differentiation. This will also guarantee them profit,” he added.
The scheme can protect bio-diversity, improve soil and water quality, said Mr Kakava.
It is a scheme that was initiated by non-profit organisations and does not only work in Africa but even in other continents like Asia as well as South America.
Products such as chillies, avocados, oranges, nuts, bananas, coffee, tea and some processed products like chocolates are some of the commodities that can be rainforest certified.