Technology tackling deforestation: Cargill steps up progress towards a transparent cocoa sector
The latest sustainability report highlights how Cargill is taking action on a range of issues across the cocoa sector while maintaining a farmer-first approach
31 May 2019 --- Cargill says it is realizing supply chain traceability, empowering cocoa farmers and tackling pressing issues such as deforestation using the power of technology. Cargill’s 2017/2018 Cocoa & Chocolate Sustainability Report highlights the work being done to improve the lives of farmers and their communities in five origin countries where the company sources cocoa – Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia. Recent actions have focused on building the capacity of local farmers, improving traceability in the supply chain, increasing access to training and educational resources for cocoa households, professionalizing farming and protecting natural resources.
“We are committed to 100 percent cocoa bean traceability and no further conversion of any forest land in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. In our efforts to work towards greater transparency, traceability and integrity for our cocoa supply chain, we are leveraging innovative mapping and monitoring technology to help us track beans and ensure full transparency on the origins of our cocoa,” Kate Clancy, Global Sustainability Manager of Cargill tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
The latest sustainability report highlights how Cargill is taking action on a range of issues across the cocoa sector while maintaining a farmer-first approach. The company stresses how important it is to create lasting benefits for cocoa farmers, their families and communities while empowering them to “own their futures and achieve success as small businesses while protecting our planet.”
The integration of technology across the supply chain also drives greater trust and transparency from cocoa bean to chocolate bar. Data from the deployment of GPS polygon mapping and electronic bean tracking solutions inform how Cargill designs and deploys its sustainability programs, in turn helping customers deliver on consumer demands for ethically sourced products.
Cargill uses GPS mapping to demonstrate whether a farm location is linked to a deforestation hotspot and its goal is to have 100 percent of its producers geo-localized (mapped) by the end of 2019.
“In terms of an example, in Cote d’Ivoire, we are implementing a Coop Management System (CMS) to monitor that deliveries are not from deforested areas. Using the CMS, the cocoa bags get a traceability/barcode component from farm to cooperative level. Simply scanning the barcode tells the Coop what cocoa field the beans come from. Cooperatives are added to the CMS system in waves, with those at highest risk of deforestation being added first. Today 45 percent of cooperatives in our direct supply in Cote d’Ivoire already have this first-mile traceability. We expect to increase that percentage to 59 percent in 2019,” Clancy reveals.
“Another example of an intervention is our agro-forestry program which we kicked off in 2019, where the aim is to plant trees to regain lost forests while allowing farmers to make a living from cocoa,” they added.
This year’s report reflects Cargill’s comprehensive approach to sustainability, which considers multiple distinct yet interconnected issues and encourages collaboration between stakeholders to achieve a thriving cocoa sector.
The report highlights progress made on the company’s five Sustainability Goals, aligned with the UN Sustainability Development Goals and adopted by Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate in 2017. These sustainability goals are part of the Cargill Cocoa Promise: the company’s corporate commitment to improving the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities.
Key milestones over the past year include:
- Providing Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training and coaching to more than 200,000 cocoa farmers worldwide. In Côte d’Ivoire, Cargill has seen GAP adoption rates double (from 14 percent to 28 percent), with farmers able to boost their productivity and manage their farms more sustainably;
- GPS polygon mapping of more than 110,000 farmers and the assessment of 188,065 hectares of forest within Cargill’s direct cocoa supply chain (in partnership with Global Forest Watch). This work establishes a baseline identifying where the cocoa comes from, which areas may be at risk of deforestation and how to mitigate this risk through specific interventions;
- Completed full needs assessments in 137 new communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. As a result, these communities are currently developing Community Action Plans (CAPs), which enable their leaders to evaluate local needs, identify available resources or areas for development and define their path forward.
Technology plays a vital role in informing and accelerating Cargill’s impact in cocoa sourcing regions. Using digital payments, farmers are able to receive secure, timely payment for their beans, while Cargill’s digital Cooperative Management System ensures that farmers and farmer organizations are empowered to manage their operations like businesses.
“We are working towards 100 percent traceability in our Cargill Cocoa Promise supply chain by 2030. We will continue to introduce traceability technology to cooperatives and farmers such as a Coop Management System (CMS) that centralizes inventory information, payment flows, and financial operations, and bar-coding of bags with the goal of tracking beans back to individual farms,” Clancy adds.
“We have already achieved 100 percent traceability from farm to factory in Ghana using these technologies. We are aiming to achieve the same in Cote d’Ivoire in 2020, where we currently have mapped more than 80,000 of the 120,000 farmers in our direct supply chain.”
By Gaynor Selby
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