Barry Callebaut fights deforestation with farm mapping
30 Mar 2020 --- Barry Callebaut has issued a progress update on The Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI), launched in 2017 at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23). The ongoing commitment is spearheaded by the world’s largest cocoa producing countries – Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, in ties with civil society and leading chocolate companies – to end deforestation and restore forests. Oliver von Hagen, Director Global Ingredients Sustainability and Carbon, and Forest Programs, speaks in detail about how Barry Callebaut leverages farm mapping technology to exclude cocoa sourcing from farms breaching the boundaries of forest conservation.
“We are definitely on track to meeting our commitments. A key focus for us has been the mapping of the location of the farmers we are sourcing from. Mapping is really a critical step to ending deforestation because it tells us if the farm is located in a protected forest area, or how far away it is from there. It also allows us to exclude cocoa purchases from farms fully or partly located within a protected area boundary,” explains von Hagen.
“In terms of the hard data, we have now mapped over 222,000 farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. This work is definitely not a desk exercise, our teams on the ground are literally walking the perimeter of these farms, which is nearly 160,000km. When you put that into context, that’s around four times the earth's circumference.”
Innova Market Insights research has indicated that 85 percent of, on average, US and UK consumers expect companies to invest in sustainability in 2019, up from 64 percent in 2018. The market researcher has ranked “The Sustain Domain” as its third top trend steering product development this year.
Indeed, Barry Callebaut’s initiative not only comprises eliminating deforestation from supply chains, but also forest restoration. Working with customers, Barry Callebaut reports it has distributed over three million cocoa seedlings and over 750,000 shade trees. This effort propels its CFI commitment to distribute 3.2 million seedlings and 1.2 million shade trees by 2022. In addition, it oversees the protection of 6,000 hectares of primary forest and restoration of 3,800 hectares of forest by removing illegal cocoa and allowing natural forest regeneration in the forest reserve of Cavally, Côte d’Ivoire.
“There is definitely a relationship between deforestation and poverty. In terms of improving farmer livelihoods, what we know is firstly, lifting cocoa farmers out of poverty is a prerequisite to end deforestation, and secondly, to prevent further deforestation and increase sustainable production of cocoa, we must focus on growing more on less land. We also know that a “one-size-fits all” approach will not lift farmers out of poverty,” says von Hagen.
“Under Forever Chocolate, our plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025, we will become carbon and forest positive and more than 500,000 cocoa farmers in our supply chain will have been lifted out of poverty. So you can see that there is alignment in both our CFI and Forever Chocolate commitments,” he says.
Upward mobility of farmers
Since the establishment of the CFI Action Plan, Barry Callebaut reports having trained over 280,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). In these training sessions, farmers learn about agroforestry and biodiversity.
“We have also worked diligently to design Farm Business Plans to enable farmers to develop their cocoa farms into rehabilitated, diverse and professionally run farms over a period of several years. The plans also help farmers to access labor and inputs on credit. In 2019, we delivered over 22,000 Farm Business Plans to farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana,” says von Hagen.
In the coming year, and in consideration of the seasonal fluctuations in the number of member farmers, Barry Callebaut aims to map the geographical location and size of the farms within its supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The confectionery brand will also collaborate with industry partners and cocoa origin governments to expand initiatives, as well as continue to explore innovative reforestation solutions.
Edited by Benjamin Ferrer
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