Barry Callebaut releases its second CFI deforestation report for Ghana and Ivory Coast

The Barry Callebaut group has released its second Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) Progress Report, noting its contribution towards the industry-wide venture tackling deforestation in key markets of Ivory Coast and Ghana, reports Neill Barston.

As the company noted, it is seeking to become ‘forest positive’ by 2025 as part of the initiative that was launched by the confectionery sector alongside the region’s governments and civil organisations including the World Cocoa Foundation, in a bid to impact positively on the environment.

Though the industry-wide scheme established in 2017 has been widely welcomed, as previously reported, there have been wider concerns expressed by the Mighty Earth campaign group, which has indicated that despite the notable venture designed to stem deforestation, it remained a major issue within the region.

As Barry Callebaut noted, Ivory Coast and Ghana respectively lost 25% and 8% of primary forest between 2002-2019, with a significant portion of deforestation attributable to cocoa farming expansion.

This required collective action that led to the CFI’s creation, with its frameworks defining the core commitments and time-bound targets required for a deforestation-free and forest-positive cocoa supply chain.

In 2020, CFI reported on the first two years of implementation (2018 – 2019), with Barry Callebaut, making substantial progress towards its commitments. This included activities to improve farmer livelihoods, reforestation and agroforestry activities, and, importantly, the mapping of cocoa farms. This involved our teams on the ground walking farm perimeters of almost 160,000km.

As the company added, it recognised that mapping the location of the farms we are sourcing from in our direct supply chain is the first step to ending deforestation. Mapping the size and geography of a farm indicates if it is located in, or near, a protected forest area.

To date, it has now mapped 158,830 farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana in our direct supply chain. This means that we have established traceability for the cocoa volumes coming from these mapped farms. Furthermore, in September 2020, the business disclosed its direct cocoa suppliers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which has been recently updated.

The report also acknowledged that farmer poverty fuels deforestation. To stop further encroachment into protected forest areas, cocoa farmers need to be equipped to increase the amount of cocoa they grow on the same, or even less, land. To increase the long-term productivity of cocoa in environmentally suitable areas, the company has focused coaching efforts on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), which include the topics of replanting, pruning, and soil nutrition.

Last year, the business trained 125,965 farmers, providing agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, planting materials, and crop diversification packages.  As well as farm mapping, the firm distributed over 1.2 million cocoa seedlings in Ghana. In addition to its efforts in previous years of over 1.8 million, these figures show that we are on track to reach its 2022 CFI commitment of 3.2 million seedlings. In 2020 it  distributed just over 1.6 million shade trees in Ivory Coast and Ghana.

Writing a forward to the CFI report, Pablo Perversi Chief Innovation, Sustainability & Quality Officer; Global Head of Gourmet, Barry Callebaut, said the business was in a strong position to become a ‘forest positive’ business by 2025.

He stressed that its work on the initiative alongside the industry and governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana, played a central part of its own Forever Chocolate programme assisting farmers in the region.

Perversi said: “To address both our CFI and Forever Chocolate commitments, our approach in 2020 has continued to focus on innovative projects and combining data and technology to support the scaling of our efforts. In September 2020, as a result of our intensive mapping efforts, we publicly disclosed our direct cocoa suppliers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, a significant step towards a more transparent and traceable cocoa supply chain.

“Our results show that we are making progress across the deliverables we defined in our CFI Action Plan in 2019. To tackle deforestation, farmer poverty must be addressed. Cocoa farmers need to be equipped to increase the amount of cocoa they grow on the same, or even less, land. Improvements to farmer livelihoods, modernising agriculture and cultivation methods, and diversifying income are essential. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we progressed with farmer training and coaching, providing agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, planting materials, and crop diversification packages. We also continued to scale both on and off-farm restoration, via the distribution of seedlings and native trees.”


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