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FarmStrong Foundation / Non classé

Commemorated on 12th June each year, the World Day against Child Labour is recognised by governments, the International Labour Organization and civil society to bring attention to the global issue of child labour, and the urgent action required to eliminate it.

Every child has a fundamental human right to education, nutritious food and health. All these rights are violated when a child is forced to work. The situation is further exacerbated when the tasks that he or she is entrusted with affect his or her health. This is the case for instance when children carry excessive weights or work in confined spaces, smoky conditions or with chemicals without any protective material.

Despite decades of governmental and corporate commitments, child labour remains widespread. This is due to the fact that child labour is a symptom: it cannot be eradicated without a systemic tackling of the root causes like, for example, poverty.

Kouamé has been a cocoa farmer in Cote d’Ivoire for over ten years.

More recently, he has become much more than a cocoa farmer. To diversify his income, he started a pig and poultry farm at his home near Soubré in rural Cote d’Ivoire. Rather than depending solely on the seasonal income accruing from cocoa, the creation of a poultry and pig farm would enable him to earn a higher net year-round income for his household, as well as provide nutritional benefits to the local communities.

One of the challenges faced by the cocoa, coffee and other industries is the exact, appropriate and timely payment of the certification compliance premiums to the small-holder farmers. The payment of the compliance or certification premium tend to be late, indirect, in cash, through a chain of multiple intermediaries.

There is no clear visibility nor systematic process for these transfers. Full transparency is rarely, if ever, seen. This complicates the verification of the millions of payments done, or which should have been done. Needless to say, that this is not to the benefit to the smallholders. They are the weakest link and tend to pull the short straw in the matters. Their position needed strengthening.

For this reason, FarmStrong Foundation has developed a unique partnership with MTN, a pan-African mobile phone service provider, to pay out premiums in a fully controlled, completely verifiable and easily auditable way. Compared to the typically used cash payment, farmers within FarmStrong Foundation programmes can now receive their certification premiums via a traceable and verifiable mobile payment system via a specific protocol developed by the partners. This money is paid into a mobile bank account.

This new innovative method provides other benefits to smallholder farmers. Not only does it minimize the risk calculation mistakes intentional or not, or their money being stolen but it also reduces the likelihood of immediate opportunistic cash spending. It provides the farmers with a tool to better manage their family finances.

Crucially, this transparent, verifiable and efficient mobile payment ensures the premium owed to each farmer is paid in full. It is clear that this is the only effective, fair, cheap and credible method for smallholder farmers in isolated and remote areas to receive their premium.