Tackling cocoa deforestation: Prince of Wales updated on industry progress

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06 Nov 2018 --- More than 18 months after launching the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI), which sets out agreed actions to achieve a sustainable and deforestation-free sector, HRH The Prince of Wales has visited key cocoa growing regions in Ghana and the Cote d’Ivoire, to examine first-hand the progress being made and how key players in the supply chain are working toward a sustainable farming model.

Prince Charles attended a meeting that brought together senior government representatives from the major growing regions in Africa and international business leaders to discuss sustainable practice in the cocoa industry and key environmental issues.

As a long-standing environmental campaigner calling to end the destruction of rainforests, the Prince of Wales convened a meeting in London last March, with the World Cocoa Foundation and The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), that included the world's leading chocolate and cocoa companies.

As a result, the companies launched a statement of intent to end the deforestation of rainforests in their supply chain. Ministers and senior government representatives of Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the UK also attended.

Last November, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Germany, the top cocoa-producing countries of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, and the world’s leading chocolate and cocoa companies, signed a landmark agreement – the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) – to prevent further conversion of any forest land for cocoa production and restore degraded forests.

The Initiative draws on lessons learned and good practices from global efforts to reduce tropical deforestation in other commodities and sectors. It recognizes that the current model of cocoa production, which revolves around very small, family-owned farms that too often provide barely enough income to support basic family needs, has been a major driver of forest loss in West Africa.

The CFI points forward steps toward a sustainable cocoa industry.

During yesterday’s meeting, The Prince of Wales was briefed by governments officials and business leaders from the likes of Barry Callebaut, Cargill, The Hershey Company, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, Olam Cocoa, SIAT Group, and Touton, on progress made over the past year to implement the key joint commitments set out in the CFI. Both governments recently released their National Implementation Plans for 2018-2020, and the participating companies which account for 85 percent of global cocoa usage are now finalizing their detailed individual company action plans. These include key players such as Barry Callebaut, Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate, Ferrero, General Mills Inc., The Hershey Company, Lindt & Sprüngli Group, Marks & Spencer Food, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, Unilever and Olam Cocoa.

FoodIngredientsFirst has requested an update on the specific progress made since the targets were discussed in March 2018. 

Work so far
Key accomplishments over the past year include new restrictions related to land conversion for cocoa and to sourcing of cocoa from national parks, introduction of stronger land-use frameworks to differentiate and protect high conservation value forests, and development of more sustainable cocoa agro-forestry production systems.

The meeting participants stressed the importance of sustainable agricultural intensification in environmentally suitable areas and increased farmer incomes as essential pre-requisites for reducing pressure for agricultural encroachment in forests. Key steps are underway to grow more cocoa on less land, scale up climate-smart cocoa production, and ensure that cocoa can be tracked to the exact farm location.

“The Government of Ghana is committed to implementing our National Implementation Plan for the Cocoa & Forests Initiative. We have already launched several new partnership activities with the cocoa industry in key deforestation hotspots that will generate stronger income and livelihoods for cocoa farmers while reducing carbon emissions and making the cocoa sector climate-resilient,” says Ghana Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh.

Côte d’Ivoire Minister of Water and Forests Alain-Richard Donwahi adds: “Côte d'Ivoire has enacted a new strategy for the preservation, rehabilitation and expansion of forests, and the promotion of a sustainable cocoa economy for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

“Our National Implementation Plan for the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, which is in line with the new strategy for the preservation, rehabilitation and expansion of forests, lays out the key building blocks for strong public-private partnership for balanced environmental and economic development in the cocoa sector.”

World Cocoa Foundation Chairman Barry Parkin says that eliminating deforestation in the cocoa supply chain is a top priority for the more than 30 companies that have signed the Cocoa & Forests Initiative. 

“We are excited to work with the governments and other partners to develop new approaches and technologies for cocoa sustainability that are wins for the farmer, the countries, the planet, and our businesses,” he says.

The Cocoa & Forests Initiative has been coordinated closely with a wide range of development partners and civil society organizations. Representatives from Ghana’s cocoa-farming community, local environmental organizations, and from the Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the African Development Bank, also attended the meeting in Accra.

FoodIngredientsFirst has been covering the progress made in the cocoa industry in terms of a sustainable supply chain, regularly reporting what steps suppliers are taking to achieve sustainability goals and to end deforestation. 

Last year, Cargill made its first ever sustainable premium payment by electronic transfer to cocoa farmers in Ghana, with just over 10,000 farmers benefiting from the two million GHS mobile payments made by Cargill in partnership with its customers through the Cargill Cocoa Promise.

This forms part of Cargill’s commitment to improving the livelihoods of farmers and communities that will secure a thriving cocoa sector for generations to come.

Last year, Alistair Davis, Olam’s Head of Cocoa Sustainability, spoke with FoodIngredientsFirst, about how the company has been carrying out sustainability work for many years with a back catalog of landmark initiatives that spans more than 15 years. Read more about how Olam is focusing on traceability to ensure supply chain integrity, here.

In contrast, earlier this year, a damning report into the cocoa sector claims that widely touted efforts in the industry to improve the lives of farmers, communities and the environment made over the last decade are having little impact. Despite many of the big players in the cocoa and chocolate supply chain working on sustainability issues like trying to eradicate child labor and stopping environmental damage like deforestation, the efforts of companies and governments have very little influence, according to the Cocoa Barometer 2018.

By Gaynor Selby

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

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