Cargill Incorporated has joined 32 other companies who together account for about 85 percent of global cocoa purchase and processing, to unveil a joint approach to combating deforestation, before finalizing their own individual plans.
This comes two years into a global push to fight deforestation, the world’s top cocoa producers and some of the largest chocolate makers are firming up specific steps they’re taking to meet the goal.
Cargill’s move comes after Ghana and Ivory Coast, which account for about 65 per cent of the global cocoa production, released plans aimed at stopping new losses and rehabilitating cocoa forests.
“This partnership with nations and other companies is part of Cargill’s own commitment to the future of the industry. Maintaining our forest cover is not only important because it serves as the bedrock for the cocoa industry but also because it goes to the core of the livelihoods of farmers,” said Lionel Soulard, Managing Director, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, West Africa.
He added that “Through a number of initiatives which will be championed collectively by all of us industry players, we hope to tackle the various complex social, economic and environmental challenges associated with the deforestation phenomenon and significantly reduce its impact moving into the future.”
Cocoa has been the backbone of several West African economies for decades, making it harder for nations dependent on export earnings to tackle forest degradation.
As cocoa prices beat competing for crops in several years through 2015, that fueled more production, in many cases at the expense of protected forests.
Ivory Coast is where the issue is most pressing. Cocoa production there surged more than 50 per cent in the past decade, while forest cover declined by 17 per cent from 2001 to 2017, according to the International Cocoa Organization and World Cocoa Foundation.
As part of the plan released, the nation aims to halt deforestation and further degradation by 2020, and then start a second phase that will last at least 10 years.
In Ghana, where forest cover has declined 13 per cent from 2001 to 2017, government’s newly released plan follows a similar path for the period through 2020.
Ghana will at first focus on six areas which have the highest deforestation rate covering 2.5 million hectares. The nation will then roll the initiative out on a national level through to 2043.