The cocoa industry has been highly fragmented in its approach to moving Africa’s smallholder farmers to sustainable production. A new industry-wide initiative hopes to change that
In March some of the biggest names in the cocoa sector met in London to sign the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, an agreement designed to end deforestation in the industry’s global supply chain by 2018. Brokered by the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, the likes of Nestle, Cargill and Mars have now committed to working with public, private and civil society partners to develop a common vision.
The statement talks of empowering smallholder farmers and their families, improving productivity and helping to finance sustainable development, but will this familiar language usher in a new roadmap for the industry?
Tropical and topical
A plant of the forest, cocoa thrives in hot, rainy, tropical conditions and is grown in a narrow belt either side of the Equator, stretching from Mexico in the west across to Papua New Guinea in the east.
In recent years, with our love of chocolate showing no sign of abating, demand for cocoa has soared. According to the World Cocoa Foundation, Africa is now responsible for nearly three-quarters of all cocoa production, with over 60% coming from just two countries, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
Deforestation from cocoa, at around 3.8 million hectares a year, is much smaller than from the big...