Barry Callebaut signs agreements with Ghana and Ivory Coast on sustainability

Global chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut has signed a letter of intent with the Conseil Café Cacao (CCC) of Côte d’Ivoire, designed to improve action on sustainable cocoa farming.

The latest initiative follows the Swiss-headquartered company’s Forever Chocolate scheme, which aims to help lift 500,000 people in West African communities out of poverty through a range of practical support measures.

The manufacturer said its latest agreement, which includes a parallel letter signed with Ghana, focuses on creating a clear model for design validation of a sustainable cocoa farming model. There will be a specific focus on the clearing and replanting of cocoa trees infected with the swollen-shoot virus (CSSV) disease.

It comes as the CCC reportedly suspended distribution of high-yield seeds for cacao trees last month, in response to concerns surrounding levels of supplies in global markets.

Consequently, industry concerns have emerged over whether this would impact on the quality and consistency of existing crops, but according to international reports, the CCC has said it believed this would not prove a significant issue.

According to latest figures, in 2016-17 the Côte d’Ivoire produced record harvests totaling 2.1 million tonnes, with the International Cocoa Organization recording a 300,000 tonnes oversupply of cocoa during that period. This has been cited as a key reason for the sharp fall in cocoa prices over the past year.

On the agreement between Barry Callebaut and the CCC, the company said it would also include agroforestry, and income diversification for cocoa farmers and the planting of shade trees. The letter of intent also acknowledged the need to make cocoa cultivation more attractive to women and young people.

It also agreed further focus on tackling child labour, with the letter of intent being signed by the Ivorian Ministry of Water and Forests to work on an agroforestry model for the rehabilitation of classified forests and sustainable cocoa farming in these areas.

These letters of intent are an important step towards the design of a new model for sustainable cocoa farming. It will combine the local expertise and resources of the CCC amd the Ministry of Water and Forests. Barry Callebaut said that with such assistance, it aimed to make interventions more impactful and accelerate the progress towards a sustainable cocoa farming sector coexisting with protected forest areas in Côte d’Ivoire, which is the world’s largest single cocoa growing country.

Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of Barry Callebaut, said: “These letters of intent are an important step towards the design of a new model for sustainable cocoa farming. Combining the expertise and resources on the ground of the CCC, the Ministry of Water and Forests and Barry Callebaut will make interventions more impactful and accelerate the progress towards a sustainable cocoa farming sector coexisting with protected forest areas in Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa growing country”.

His optimism was shared by Yves Brahima Koné, director general of the CCC, who believed that the move would prove a valuable boost to improving sustainable production.

He said: “Our 2QC programme is all about supporting Ivorian cocoa farmers and ensuring the steady supply of the highest quality cocoa. Partnering with industry is crucial to further build sustainable cocoa farming in Côte d’Ivoire and to ensure that cocoa farming remains an attractive profession for future generations.”

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