Sustainable chocolate: Barry Callebaut and Nestlé partner in Côte d’Ivoire agroforestry project
23 Mar 2023 --- In a long-term agreement, Barry Callebaut and Nestlé plan to roll out 11,500 hectares of agroforestry, including payments for ecosystem services, in an effort that will protect biodiversity and support the livelihoods of over 6,000 cocoa farmers in the West African nation.
The implementation of the project is underway, with three cooperatives in the Southern part of the country already engaging in the project, which will scale to ten cooperatives in the next five years.
With the project, the businesses estimate they can remove up to 1.3 million metric tons of CO2 emissions over the next 25 years.
Cutting carbon emissions
The projects will allow the two companies to advance their sustainability targets while allowing customers of Barry Callebaut and Nestlé to remove carbon within their supply chains.
“As part of Nestlé’s Net Zero roadmap, we are committed to reducing our business’ climate impact to the farms we source from. Over 21,000 football fields are covered by our joint agroforestry project to support farmers who are part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan,” explains Darrell High, cocoa manager at Nestlé.
In the same vein, Tilmann Silber, global forest and carbon program lead at Barry Callebaut, adds that “as part of our Forever Chocolate plan, we invest into carbon removal activities jointly with our farmers and customers.”
“This partnership shows that agroforestry can deliver a significant positive impact where it matters most – in the shared value chain,” he continues.
Going green delivers higher yields
Through agroforestry efforts, the companies aim to mitigate the impact of climate change and restore natural biodiversity while helping cocoa farmers increase long-term productivity.
“The collaboration allows us to support the planting of trees on cocoa farms while restoring the ecosystems, removing carbon from the atmosphere, diversifying farmers’ income and ultimately increasing farm climate resilience,” underscores Silber.
The resulting soil quality allows for higher drought and disease resistance. Furthermore, the businesses reveal that “cocoa grown under shade trees is also linked to increased biodiversity.”
Barry Callebaut and Nestlé also use a mix of native species to promote cocoa and soil regeneration and attract pollinators.
The program starts by educating farmers about the benefits of agroforestry and diagnosing their farm needs – support with farm design, seedling kits and technical training. It also monitors their seedlings’ performance and pays them for the ecosystem services they provide. In addition, it helps them secure land rights and market linkages for their products.
“Land rights are essential to ensure a living income for farmers and sustainable cocoa production. The companies explain that having formal rights to the land allows farmers to invest in their land to secure their livelihoods safely,” the companies explain.
Previously, in 2022, Nestlé started offering farmers financial incentives to reduce harmful practices and help local women.
Barry Callebaut and Nestlé plan to expand to Ghana and to other cocoa-producing countries.
Companies boost farmers income
Confectionery giants have been playing their part in creating a sustainable cocoa sector with fair prices for all and working toward the elimination of unethical practices.
In 2022, chocolate behemoth Mars started two “farmer-first” programs that will support the sustainable living income of 14,000 smallholder farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia. Helping farmers access, for example, the financial systems for the first time.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions is providing training on agricultural best practices to 254 cacao farmers in the region of Tabasco, South Mexico to fight deforestation in the area caused by farmers switching to less carbon-friendly crops and cattle ranching.
To make the cocoa business transparent, Koa is working on a blockchain-based technology that allows customers to monitor the extra income paid to farmers in real-time, with transactions being public, transparent and verifiable. Koa expects to reach over 12,000 farmers in the next two years and currently has over 2,200 in its value chain.
Edited by Marc Cervera
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