LIBERIA – The Atlantic Cocoa Export & Processing Company (ACPEC), a privately owned accredited and recognized local Agri company has been granted organic certification by one of Europe’s top organic certification agents, KIWA BCS Garantie GmbH-f, buttressing the cocoa production sector.
While addressing a press conference ACPEC’s Chief Executive Officer Clemenceau Wilfred Urey, said the recognition places Liberia amongst a list of selected countries in the world trading in organic certified cocoa produced and sold on the world market.
He added that the acquisition of the Organic Certificate status, which came after two years of rigorous screening exercise by KIWA, will boost the reputation of Liberia’s cocoa sector, thus benefiting farmers and exporters.
“ACPEC started the application process back in 2018. It has been a long process but worth it in the end,” said Urey.
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 thorough 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.
Before the certification, Urey said the record had only shown that neighboring Sierra Leone is the 5th largest exporter of organic certified cocoa in the West African region. He hopes, that the certification will bolster Liberia’s status on the world map, though it has placed the country’s image on the said platform for receiving such an advanced certificate.
The CEO revealed that while organic cocoa is largely cultivated in Liberia by many farmers who cannot afford to purchase inorganic fertilizers and pest control mechanicals, attaining organic certification is laborious as it digs deep into the farmers’ already empty pockets.
Urey noted that his company beat the financial odds by securing short-term commercial loans at a high-interest rate to undertake this exercise and in the process differentiate itself from the competition and brand its export of cocoa as organically certified.
To obtain organic certification, a company must train the farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and its post-harvest protocols for fermentation and drying. According to Urey, ACPEC has so far registered and trained 2,150 farmers in Bong and Nimba Counties on Best Management Practices (BMP) accepted in other parts of the world.