- The 12 largest companies involved with the production of cocoa products have joined with the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) in an initiative to halt deforestation and the degradation of forest cover within the cocoa production supply chain, Confectionery News reported. The 12 producers are Callebaut; Blommer; Cargill; Cemoi; Ecom; Ferrero; Hershey; Mars, Mondelez, nestle; Olam, and Touton.
- The group will begin its effort in Ghana and the Côte d'Ivoire, where local government estimates approximately 3% of forest is being lost each year due to cocoa farming and agricultural encroachment on forest land.
- There is no hard deadline set at this time, as in other industries those time lines have been difficult to adhere to, and the undertaking will require significant financing, according to Richard Scobey, president of the WCF.
Much of the problem of forest encroachment resides with the poverty of cocoa farmers, who rarely make a manageable living simply producing cocoa. To boost their income, the farmers often seek to expand their holdings in forested areas they decimate in order to increase cocoa yield. This is not a sustainable model, however, and members of the newly created WCF are determined to make a change.
To achieve lasting change by promoting forest recovery, four main issues must be addressed: farmers must earn a livelihood that keeps them from encroaching on forest land; deforestation and climate change; child labor must be eradicated; and swollen shoot virus among the trees must be cured, rather than result in the determined killing of the tree.
To achieve these changes, the WCF intends to consult with the African Development Bank for farmer financing opportunities, and to partner with the governments active in cocoa-producing regions in order to promote crop diversification, which will improve the health of the land and allow the forest to reclaim its previous territory.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, the founding date of the World Cocoa Foundation was misstated.