Blog It Café

MONDAY, APRIL 04, 2016

Rainforest Alliance

About a month ago I also did an interview with the Rainforest Alliance. In this Post you can find Key Facts about the organization and the answer to some specific questions. In order to make it a more homogenous study most of the questions were the same as asked to UTZ.




Since: 1987


Founded: By a group of volunteers led by Daniel Katz. Co-founder of the Sustainable Agriculture Standards (SAN) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).


Financed: Audit payments (36%), private foundations (18,3%), government grants (27,4%), contributions and memberships (11,7%) and special events (3,3%). Participation Fee will be paid by the first buyer after shipment.


Mission: The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.


Crops Covered: Bananas, cattle, cocoa, coffee, tea, ferns and cut flowers among others. They also have a Forestry products and a Tourism program.


Chain of Custody Requirements: Accredited certification bodies certify farms, group administrator (for group certifications) and Participating Operators (POs) that conform to the SAN policies.


Costs: Farmers pay for the Audits


Main producer Countries in 2014: Brazil (34%), Colombia (11%) and Vietnam (8%)


Countries with local operations: 20 Global Offices. Africa (Ghana, Cameroun, Cote D’Ivoire), Asia-Pacific (Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, China, Vietnam) and Americas (Canada, Brazil, Guatemala, Bolivia). Representatives in other Central American countries.


Frequency of Audits: SAN units are certified every three years.


Auditing Process / Group Certifications: The auditor visits at least a square root of the total number of member farms. Ex: From a group of 1000 farms around 32 will be personally audited.


Who makes the audits: All audits are conducted by third-party auditors chosen by SAN, always local organizations.


Partnerships: Coalition of independent, mostly Southern non-profit conservation organizations.


Number of Participants/hectares covered: More than 160,000 farmers / 945,000 hectares


Volume of coffee produced/sold as Rainforest certified (2014): 456.042 MT/ 184.599 MT


Highlights: Focus on environmental aspects of farm management.


Questions discussed:

Answered by Marcel Clement (Director for Market Transformation EMEA & Japan)


What is the average cost to get certified, distributed for each market Stakeholder?

It's hard to stipulate the cost because it really depends on the level of adaptions the farm will need. Adaptions are considered the biggest costs, followed by auditing.


Are there trainings to implement the code of conduct? Who is responsible for it?

Rainforest “trains the trainers”, for example SAN chooses a local organization (e.g. Imaflora in Brazil) to train agronomists that can help farmers make adaptions. A diagnostic Audit can also be performed if the farmer choses to pay for one. 


After a producer gets certified, how is he assisted?

Smallholder producers are usually trained on site by Rainforest Alliance accredited trainers to help them prepare for and maintain their certification in what is called FFS (Farmers Field Schools) using Rainforest Alliance capacity building materials that can be found on the online training platform. These trainings are mandatory and generally occur once a month on a designated farm until the producer groups are able to conduct their own trainings. The farmers are also visited on their own farms to make sure that the best practices they have been trained for are being adopted properly.


How many field trainers are being allocated for each number of farmers?

The average number of participants in a FFS training is 30 farmers.  The training sessions are usually conducted by one Rainforest Alliance accredited technician together with a local trader’s technicians and also a local extension agent technician. These technicians have been instrumental in helping the programs reach a high number of farmers in what is usually called a cascade training model


Are there any adaptions to the standard for each country/region?

The standard is global. But auditors receive directions with specific country guidelines. There are local interpretations of the SAN standard for certain commodities in specific regions.


How to increase international demand for certified coffee?

Nowadays the trends in coffee consumption and increase in consumer awareness are naturally cooperating for this increase; there are also government demands in some cases.


How are decisions regarding the Code of Conduct taken? How is decision making power distributed throughout stakeholders? Are there also producers? 

Stakeholders are involved through public consultation workshops, online consultation platforms and the international standards committee. Producers, governments, NGO’s and academics are all part of the process.


About the economic benefits of certification, what are the main trainings to help producers learn about price negotiations / price information?

Rainforest Alliance does not make any specific claims about helping producers to negotiate prices for their crops with traders. However, our formal certification training supports the groups to be well organized and set up their IMS (Internal Management Systems) to be able to manage their internal control systems, keep track records and establish an efficient traceability system. The training also helps producers to get a higher yield and better crop quality as such this supports farmers’ groups to negotiate better prices with the traders.  Our Sustainable Finance unit has also initiated capacity building modules to improve farmer’s literacy.


How to assure clear contractual terms for producers?

Contractual terms are discussed between the cooperatives and the traders. They negotiate with the traders the price of the premium received.  Rainforest Alliance does not intervene in the process.


It is important to remember that Rainforest Alliance has the highest requirements regarding environmental aspects of farm production. 

Leave your message