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.
After Ghana and Ivory Coast, which account for about 65 percent of the global cocoa production, released plans aimed at stopping new losses and rehabilitating cocoa forests, Cargill Inc. has joined 32 other companies to unveil a joint approach to combating deforestation, before finalizing their own individual plans.
The companies account for about 85 percent of global cocoa purchase and processing.
“This partnership with nations and other companies is part of Cargill’s own commitment to the future of the industry,” said Lionel Soulard, Managing Director, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, West Africa.
“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,” he added.
“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 crops for several years through 2015, fueling more production, protected forests is depleted.
Ivory Coast is where the issue is most-pressing. Cocoa production there surged more than 50 percent in the past decade, while forest cover declined by 17 percent 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 percent 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.
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