30 Apr 2021 — With Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire among the highest cocoa-producing countries in the world, Cargill is shining a light on the importance of protecting the forests in these regions. In the company’s latest Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) report, Cargill reveals that progress and restoration is being made through farm mapping and traceable supply chains.
Cargill says it is scaling its efforts to end deforestation and restore forest areas across sourcing landscapes. This starts with GPS polygon mapping. Cargill has mapped 70 percent of farms in Côte d’Ivoire and 76 percent of farms in Ghana that actively supply sustainable beans through the Cargill Cocoa Promise Supply Chain Partner Network.
When overlaid with satellite imagery, this information helps Cargill assess where deforestation-related risks are most significant and take action.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Sebastiaan van der Hoek, forest advisor at Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, says the company’s goal is to “contribute to a thriving cocoa sector, one that sustainably empowers cocoa farmer communities.”
“Being present across the entire supply chain, we are working closely and transparently with all relevant stakeholders forging local supply chain and sector-wide partnerships to make sure that the programs we deploy make a concrete difference on the ground.”
The Cargill Cocoa Promise is a central commitment to enabling farmers and their communities to achieve better incomes and living standards. Cargill focuses its efforts on improving outcomes forfarmers, communities and landscapes.
Cargill is also committed to transforming its cocoa supply chains globally and pledges to be deforestation-free by 2030.
“However, tackling deforestation is complex,” warns Van der Hoek. “We must meet the needs for all stakeholders, including cocoa farmers and their supporting communities, to sustainably balance the production of cocoa with the conservation of forests.”
A vision to protect the planet
Cargill has been working toward a more sustainable cocoa sector for decades.
“Partnerships like the CFI bring meaningful, long-lasting change to the cocoa sector,” adds Van der Hoek.
Launched in 2017, CFI is a public-private partnership facilitated by the World Cocoa Foundation and IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative. It is chaired by the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Leading global companies, including Cargill, have signed on to CFI to protect and restore forests in cocoa-producing countries.
Protect Our Planet goals are aligned with Cargill’s company-wide commitment to ending deforestation and builds on the impact of the Cargill Cocoa Promise to deliver a sustainable supply of cocoa and chocolate products from bean to end-product.
Driving traceability across cocoa supply chains
Farm mapping is just one element of Cargill’s efforts to drive first-mile traceability and uphold its CFI commitments.
The company has employed technology to trace cocoa from the farm level to the cocoa cooperative, providing greater transparency into the cocoa supply chain and facilitating digital premium payments to farmers.
Cargill has also partnered with PUR Projet and IMPACTUM to support on-farm restoration and forest protection near essential conservation areas.
Since the launch of the CFI action plan in 2018, Cargill has supported more than 15,500 farmers in adopting cocoa agroforestry practices and distributed more than 840,000 multi-purpose trees for on-farm planting.
Forests play a crucial role for cocoa-growing countries in their ability to adapt to a changing climate. “They provide critical ecosystem services such as food, water availability, shelter and nutrient cycling,” Van der Hoek underscores.
“Further, tropical forests store significant amounts of carbon. When trees are cut down for timber logging or burned to make way for crop plantations, they release previously-stored carbon back into the atmosphere, further exacerbating climate change.”
Tackling deforestation starts in the field, he outlines. The company’s focus is on equipping farmers with the skills, training and resources they need to practice efficient, environmentally sound and safe farming.
“Solutions include educating farmers about the long-term negative impact of deforestation, coaching them to farm existing land more effectively, or giving whole communities access to a more diverse range of income-generating opportunities.”
“However, we realize it will take all of us, working together to realize that vision. That’s why we must continue to build awareness of the challenges that lie before us and work together with farmers, NGOs, governments, customers and other industry stakeholders to find and implement lasting solutions,” says Van der Hoek.
“Only then will we ensure a thriving cocoa sector now and for generations to come.”
Technology drives progress
Cargill’s second annual CFI progress report shows how the company is advancing its multi-year action plan.
Cargill is mapping farms, tracing cocoa, assessing deforestation risk, engaging suppliers and prioritizing actions on the ground using technology.
When cocoa beans arrive at Cargill’s warehouse in the Afamu community of Ghana, they are weighed and assigned a barcode. That barcode corresponds to the unique ID code of the farmer selling the beans, and with it, Cargill has access to detailed information related to the farmer’s forest risks.
The barcode system provides insights on farm size, yield estimates and proximity to protected areas or intact, primary forests. It’s one of many innovative technologies that Cargill is deploying across its cocoa supply chain in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire as part of its commitment to the CFI.
Cargill will continue to advance its CFI action plan in collaboration with industry partners, believing a “smart mix” of measures will be crucial to success, including new partnerships on the ground; action within the European Union to create a clear market demand for sustainable products; action by other consumer countries; and action by financial institutions and their regulators.
“We are working to understand the root causes of deforestation and address the interconnected issues leading to forest loss,” continues Van der Hoek. “Continued engagement in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire will be vital to ensure a thriving cocoa sector for years to come.”
By Elizabeth Green
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