Barry Callebaut moves towards its sustainability goals in Ghana and Ivory Coast

Swiss-headquartered Barry Callebaut has reported key progress on its commitments to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) working with industry partners and  Ivory Coast and Ghana governments, aiming to end deforestation.

Oliver von Hagen, the company’s Director Global Ingredients Sustainability and Carbon and Forest Programs, explained the initiative represented a major milestone, bringing together stakeholders in the cocoa supply chain and introduced a clear division of actions to be undertaken.

“We are definitely on track to meeting our commitments. A key focus for us has been the mapping of the location of the farmers we are sourcing from.  Mapping is really a critical step to ending deforestation because it tells us if the farm is located in a protected forest area, or how far away it is from there. It also allows us to exclude cocoa purchases from farms fully or partly located within a protected area boundary.

“In terms of the hard data, we have now mapped over 222,000 farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. This work is definitely not a desk exercise, our teams on the ground are literally walking the perimeter of these farms, which is nearly 160,000km,” added the sustainability specialist, who explained that in context, the figure represented around four times the earth’s circumference.

He added that the business has distributed over 3 million cocoa seedlings and over 750,000 shade trees, demonstrating its  effort to almost achieved our CFI commitment to distribute 3.2 million seedlings and 1.2 million shade trees by 2022. In addition, he explained the company has helped to protect over 6,000 hectares of primary forest and restore 3,800 hectares of forest by removing illegal cocoa and allowing natural forest regeneration in the forest reserve of Cavally, Côte d’Ivoire.

Another key issue has been that of tackling illegal cocoa farming, which is another area that the business has been conscious to try and address.

von Hagen added: “There is definitely a relationship between deforestation and poverty. In terms of improving farmer livelihoods, what we know is this – first, that lifting cocoa farmers out of poverty is a prerequisite to end deforestation, and second, to prevent further deforestation and increase sustainable production of cocoa, we must focus on growing more on less land. We also know that a “one-size-fits all” approach will not lift farmers out of poverty. Under Forever Chocolate, our plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025, we will become carbon and forest positive and more than 500,000 cocoa farmers in our supply chain will have been lifted out of poverty. So you can see that there is alignment in both our CFI and Forever Chocolate commitments.

“As part of Forever Chocolate, we have been undertaking pilot projects in key cocoa growing countries. These pilots were developed to understand not just the effectiveness, but also the rate of adoption by farmers of fertilizers, productivity packages, farm rehabilitation programs, shade trees and crop and livestock diversification.  Since the establishment of our CFI Action Plan, we have trained over 280,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana on Good Agricultural Practices, also called GAPs. In these trainings farmers learn about agroforestry and biodiversity. We have also worked diligently to design Farm Business Plans to enable farmers to develop their cocoa farms into rehabilitated, diverse and professionally run farms over a period of several years. The Plans also help farmers to access labor and inputs on credit. In 2019, we delivered over 22,000 Farm Business Plans to farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.”



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