The World Cocoa Farmers Organisation expresses concerns over Amazon fires

The World Cocoa Farmers Organisation (WCFO) has expressed fears over widespread Amazon rainforest fires that it says could have hugely damaging impact on the environment and Brazilian communities.

Jorge Sarmiento, the industry group’s interim global president, said there was a ‘great level of concern’ over the issue, which has seen a total of 44,000 government troops reportedly tackle the blazes, which are continuing across significant areas of land.

However, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has so far refused a $22 million offer of aid from G7 nations to fund firefighting plans amid a disagreement with French president Emmanuel Macron over environmental policies. He has reportedly agreed to meet South American countries to coordinate a response to the situation.

Sarmiento said one of the main aims of the WCFO was to protect and conservation of the environment, with millions of its members living, and survive from Amazon resources – with cocoa farming for the confectionery sector being of notable importance.

He said: “The farmers, including cocoa farmers in the Americas, and the Caribbean are very concerned about the impact that the fires will have
on their lives, such as loss of virgin forest, pollination and distraction of newly planted cocoa trees in the Amazon, and its surroundings.

“There are insects that fulfil this pollination function and they are very fragile to the climatic change, and even more so to the smoke that the fires generate. Because of our experience we can confirm that the use of chemicals and fires in plantations near Cacao plantations, cocoa production has been very poor and is largely due to lack of the pollinator insect. WCFO urges a united front between farmers and non-profits in order to raise awareness and to push the Brazilian government and other countries to act as quickly as possible in making decisions that will contain these damaging fires in the Amazon.

“WCFO also urge governments in cocoa producing countries in the region, and chocolate companies to consider and take actions to support the farmers who have lost their farms. We also predict, that the global cocoa industry will witness some possible decline of production as a result of the fire in the Amazon, and will directly affect families of cocoa farmers in the region.”

He added that he hoped the Brazilian government accepted assistance offered other nations in order to help save the Amazon, which in turn would prevent notable impact on the confectionery sector within the region.


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