The BALMED BLOCKFARMING© SYSTEM is a landuse model for a fair and longterm partnership between landowners, landusers and Balmed Holding. Balmed takes the initial risk and investment in developing the farms for a productive use, and therefore has the purchasing guarantee during the period of the lease agreement from all farms involved in the Blockfarming-Model. To start off, written agreements are put in place between a) the community and the land owners; b) the youths interested in farming business and the company and the land owners. The legal right to the land of the plantations will be held by the company for a period of 20 years unless otherwise agreed with the community. The company will be responsible for all the inputs (tools, poly bags etc) and the general management of these ‘farm management groups’, training and knowledge transfer and transparent record keeping. The youths will from groups, deciding on the manageable size for nursery and farms. They also decide on the average acreage per member, with a suggestion of minimum 4 acres per youth, which is needed for sufficient longterm income. The GPS measured plantations will be managed by the company for a determined period and then handed over to a local management committee. This is to guarantee a professional management and knowledge transfer at the beginning, until the youths farmers have acquired all necessary skills to do so. The model implementation follows the crop calendar – starting the nurseries in December and January, passing on to land preparation, for outplanting from May onwards. After that, there will be an annual maintenance of the farms with underbrushing, shade management and in later years also adding pruning. For a close quality management and traceability, all plantations under the BALMED BLOCKFARMING© SYSTEM are placed under one of the International certifications (UTZ, organic, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade). Thus premiums of up to USD 200/ton shall be attracted. The harvested cocoa will be shared 1/3rd each - land owners/community, youths and the company - after directly attributed costs respectively. The management costs are fully covered by the company. After 8 years the 1/3 share by the company will be handed over to the youths– together with the management responsibility going o the management committee trained and functional by then.
FARM - PROCESSING - BUYER & FARM - PROCESSING - FACTORY
Balmed Holding Ltd. strives for a fully traceable supply chain,
linkes its BALMED BLOCKFARMING© SYSTEM closely to the existing 9 Balmed-Cocoa- Processing-Centers© which are spread over the cocoa producing season in the east of Sierra Leone.
In 2010, three Balmed Cocoa-Processing-Centers© were selected to start with each 100 to 300 acres. This split was done for a) minimising risks, b) get comparative data, c) enhance competition amongst participating communities, especially the youths. After evaluation, this pilot was expanded in 2010 to 1700 acres and beyond on each site.
Each location under BALMED BLOCKFARMING© SYSTEM is put under a specific certification programme, and linked with an international buying company.
On condition of further funding partners, additional communities will be added gradually . Part of the cocoa beans can be delivered to the planned cocoa processing factory.
WIN - WIN - WIN - WIN - WIN
Land tenure in Sierra Leone is still under dual system – the traditional chieftaincy and the modern land law. Agricultural land is internationally under higher demand, with foreign investors buying out large areas in Africa. This BALMED BLOCKFARMING© SYSTEM provides a fair and transparent WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN solution to all parties involved : WIN to the local trading company (Balmed Holdings Ltd) wanting to secure its supply through stable relationship with the farmers; WIN to the contributing importing companies based overseas, equally interested in long-term secured product supply WIN to the landowners often too old to work the land on their own , and not trusting in own relatives regarding lease, but trusting the intermediary company who has proven trustworthy during several years of trading with the community. They receive a document with their land registered. WIN to the youths, who do not have any employment in the rural area, neither the capital to start off any meaningful farming activity, but through the BALMED BLOCKFARMING© SYSTEM being able of using their workforce and commitment as a start up for a long term business opportunity WIN to the governments and Donors/ NGOs: looking for a development oriented alternative to “land grabbing” trough foreign investors, assuring food security through intercropping, providing household income for education and health, and supporting employment creation amongst youth in rural areas