With 2014 being the UN International Year of Family Farming, highlighting the role that family farming and smallholder farming plays in eradicating hunger and poverty has never been so important.
Family farming has a crucial part to play in providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.
Today’s blog is the first in our family farming series, where we talk to farmers about their family-run farms…
Assande Alle Felix is a 57-year-old cocoa Ivorian farmer. He’s married with 10 children, aged between one up to 30 years old. Assande’s six hectare farm is part of the COOPROYA cooperative certified by the Rainforest Alliance and located in the east of Cote d’Ivoire.
How long has your family had the farm?
My family has had this farm a long time, over 30 years. I got this farm from my father when he died.
What does the farm mean to your family?
The great part of my family income comes from the cocoa farm. I have some food crops, but these are mostly for our own consumption. I also have 1 hectare of rubber and a small coffee farm.
How does all the family get involved on the farm?
My wife helps me mainly during harvest season. She helps to do the pod collection and the cocoa bean drying. Sometimes she helps with the weeding and she also does all the cooking. My two eldest boys also help me on the farm. Five of my children go to school in the town and the other three are too young to help or go to school yet.
Why did you decide to get involved with the Rainforest Alliance?
I met with the president of the cooperative four years ago who explained the certification process. My first interest was the premium because for me it was a way to increase my money. Now, even though the premium is still very important, I appreciate the training that I have received on good farming practices the others training modules. My farm looks better and I am harvesting more cocoa beans than before.
How has certification made a difference to your farm and your family?
I just mentioned that my farm looks better because of the maintenance. Also, before certification, I used to wash my pesticide spraying equipment in the river and I was not using protective clothing. Now, I know that it’s not good for my family. So I work with a spraying team, which is trained and have adequate equipment. I also have better yields because the cooperative trainers visit me and give me advice. And the premium also helps me to manage my family.
What are your hopes for the future for your farm and your family?
I want to get more money for my children and my wife. Cocoa work is very difficult and we are still living in difficult conditions. If I can get more cocoa, better price for my cocoa and more premiums, I think I can improve the life of my family.