Forests are vital to sustainable cocoa production. Not only do they help to improve biodiversity and mitigate against climate change, they also help to improve cocoa yields and raise farmer incomes. By improving tree cover, cocoa farmers can increase the yields and life expectancy of their cocoa trees and generate additional income from more diverse crops.
The benefits of forest protection and restoration are clear, but we also need to create the right economic incentives. When farmers have struggled to earn a living income from their cocoa smallholdings, they have often resorted to clearing more land. Together with our customers, national governments and NGO partners, we’re working to change that.
We are proud to be a dedicated partner of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI), a joint initiative between the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and leading cocoa and chocolate companies which aims end deforestation in the cocoa supply chain. Today, we’re publishing our Annual CFI Progress Report to set out the progress that’s been made over the last year.
In that time, we have continued to distribute and plant forest and fruit trees in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. We have trained farmers in agronomy and agroforestry to help them improve yields through their existing land. And we have supported farming communities through skills training, child labour monitoring and remediation, and Village Loan and Savings Associations.
We are seeing results. A recent report by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity found the rate of forest loss from 2018 to 2019 in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana has halved. CFI is a blueprint for how engaging stakeholders on an agreed framework for action across the supply chain – from the private sector to governments in sourcing countries, supported with vital donor funding – can propel us towards a sustainable cocoa future.
Never has the need for action been more pressing. The impact of climate change and biodiversity loss is becoming ever clearer in every aspect of our lives. In this year of climate action, now is the moment to build on our progress in reversing forest loss and degradation to create a cocoa supply chain where the natural world is protected, communities are supported, and farmers are able to earn a living income.