Ivoire Organics committed to BSCI standards
BioTropic has recently become a member of the BSCI. The producer organisation Ivoire Organics in Côte d’Ivoire has been certified.
BSCI – these four letters stand for “Business Social Compliance Initiative” and encompass a code of conduct which was created by European business enterprises in 2003. The aim of the code is to standardise and improve working and social practices in international trade – particularly in high-risk countries. The stringent requirements of the BSCI are based on international conventions, such as the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
“We passed with a top mark”, says a clearly delighted Stéphane Goa, Managing Director of Ivoire Organics. In order to become a BSCI member, the producer organisation had to credibly demonstrate – amongst other things – that no children work for the company, that the company works to effective health and safety standards and that its employees earn a fair wage for their work. “Our employees have been enjoying the benefits of private health insurance, a regular wage and 30 days of paid leave long before this audit took place”, explains Goa – something which cannot be taken for granted in an African country which is still classified as a ‘developing country’.
Kuemkwong Siemefo had to put together comprehensive documentation before the organisation was even considered for audit in the first place. Siemefo, the person in charge of products from Africa at BioTropic, listed and described all of Ivoire Organic’s processes and working conditions in painstaking detail. “I visit the site several times a year and have been supporting the producer organisation since 2008 – the year in which BioTropic began the first certified organic farming programme in the country with Ivoire Organics”, he explains.
The internationally active Swiss testing institute SGS audited Ivoire Organics on behalf of the BSCI. The SGS auditor Rosida Dhookhun – who travelled from Mauritius just for the audit – precisely scrutinised everything about the organisation. Her entire inspection took five days. The first leg of her trip began in Bonoua in the south, where the producer organisation grows organic pineapples and organic coconuts. The harvested fruit is packaged at the in-house packing station or processed into dried fruit. In the second stage of the audit, the auditor travelled to Korhogo in the north – where the organic mangoes of Ivoire Organics are grown – with Stéphane Goa. The fruit is prepared as fresh produce for export or dried in special drying ovens and turned into a super snack.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the way in which Dhookhun worked”, explains Goa. “She spoke to lots of our employees and asked questions which you simply cannot prepare for. At the end of the day, she was extremely satisfied with what she had seen and heard. We are obviously delighted, too!”, he says, laughing.
As part of the BSCI membership, there is now an in-house break time area at Ivoire Organics where the employees can go to sit and eat their food. There is also a new changing area – with separate facilities for men and women. On the edge of the pineapple fields, Ivoire Organics has now also installed waste containers for any rubbish generated during the field work. There were already areas for rubbish; however, it was often blown away by the wind.
With the official BSCI seal, the producer organisation will be able to expand its sales channels. The majority of customers now ask for certifications which contain certain social standards in their norms. The BSCI code of conduct is more comprehensive in this regard – one of the reasons why BioTropic decided to acquire this additional certification.
If the employees continue to show the commitment they did to acquire the seals, then such fundamental standards can only be a step in the right direction. “If we are able to sell more of our organic fruits, this will not only benefit our employees and their families, but will also aid the cause of organic farming in Côte d’Ivoire”, concludes Goa.
You can find more information here:
The BSCI Code of Conduct
Text: Visnja Malesic
Pictures: BioTropic GmbH
Issued: September 2016