Amsterdam, January 21, 2014.
UTZ certified cocoa, coffee and tea farms generate higher yields and better quality crops than conventional farms, and being trained in the UTZ Code of Conduct helps farmers to improve their knowledge and adopt sustainable farming practices. As a result, farmers can generate more income and create better opportunities while safeguarding the environment. These are the main findings presented in the UTZ Impact Report launched today.
The UTZ Impact Report is based on 24 independent research studies conducted in South America, Africa and Asia. Researchers looked at the impact of the UTZ Certified program, and in some cases they also analyzed other certification schemes in farming practices.
Key findings include that training and certification processes contribute to better relationships between farmers and their cooperatives; that access to sanitation facilities and clean drinking water has been improved; and that children from UTZ certified farms are more likely to attend school. There is also a positive impact for the environment with UTZ certified farmers taking more steps to protect water quality, reduce soil and water pollution and preserve biodiversity.
“For us, it is of fundamental importance to measure the impact of our program,” said Han de Groot, executive director of UTZ Certified. “We are proud of the outcome of this report. It shows that UTZ is making a difference for more than half a million farmers and their families worldwide,” he concluded.
The studies indicate that implementing good agricultural practices on UTZ certified farms results on average in higher yields and better quality crops. For example, in Colombia UTZ certified farmers were able to maintain higher levels of production despite adverse weather conditions which led to a decline in production levels among conventional farmers. The gap in terms of production between UTZ certified farmers and the control group increased from 52% in the first year to 169% by the fourth year.
According to the research, there are also a number of challenges that UTZ Certified should address to further improve the positive impact of its work. In particular, illiteracy and the lack of access to finance are two issues that for some farmers still make it difficult to invest in sustainable farming measures and fully benefit from UTZ certification.