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Cocoa & Forests Initiative report shows progress in forest protection and restoration in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire

April 28, 2021

When cocoa beans arrive at Cargill’s warehouse in the Afamu community of Ghana, they are weighed and assigned a barcode. That barcode corresponds to the unique ID code of the farmer selling the beans, and with it, Cargill has access to detailed information related to the farmer’s forest risks.

The barcode system provides insights on farm size, yield estimates, and proximity to protected areas or intact, primary forests. It’s one of many innovative technologies that Cargill is deploying across our cocoa supply chain in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire as part of our commitment to the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI).

Launched in 2017, CFI is a public-private partnership facilitated by the World Cocoa Foundation and IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative. It is chaired by the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Leading global companies, including Cargill, have signed on to CFI to protect and restore forests in cocoa-producing countries.

For Cargill, this commitment is part of our Protect our Planet Strategic Action Plan, which outlines how we will eliminate deforestation from our cocoa supply chain by 2030.  Protect Our Planet goals are aligned with Cargill’s company-wide commitment to ending deforestation and builds on the impact of the Cargill Cocoa Promise to deliver a sustainable supply of cocoa and chocolate products from bean to end-product.

“Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are among the highest priority regions for cocoa sustainability because of their vital landscapes and few remaining forests that must be protected,” said Sebastiaan van der Hoek, forest advisor for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. “Together with farmers, customers and other partners, we are scaling our efforts to end deforestation and restore cocoa production landscapes.”

three people looking at cocoa tree in cocoa plantation

Technology drives progress 

Cargill’s second annual CFI progress report shows how the company is advancing its multi-year action plan. Using innovative technology, we are mapping farms, tracing cocoa, assessing deforestation risk, engaging suppliers and prioritizing actions on the ground.

Highlights from this year’s report include:

  • Using GPS polygon mapping, we have mapped 70% of farms in Côte d’Ivoire and 76% of farms in Ghana that supply our sustainable beans through the Cargill Cocoa Promise Supply Chain Partner Network. This information can support decision-making as Cargill prioritizes engagements and interventions with high-risk suppliers or sourcing geographies to guide improvements towards our CFI commitments.
  • We scaled the implementation of digital traceability solutions such as the Cooperative Management System in Côte d’Ivoire and the barcode system in Ghana to trace cocoa from the farm level to the first purchase point.
  • We collaborated with several partners on integrated landscape management solutions, supply chain data sharing and deforestation risk assessments. For example, Cargill, together with the World Cocoa Foundation, Climate Focus and in partnership with the World Resources Institute, is working with companies to develop a comprehensive dataset of cocoa plot locations in the direct supply chain and an aligned method for assessing deforestation risk.
  • Our holistic agroforestry programs with PUR Projet and IMPACTUM have supported on-farm restoration and forest protection in the buffer zones of important conservation areas by raising awareness, promoting agricultural best practices and engaging communities. 
  • Since the launch of our CFI action plan in 2018, we have supported more than 15,500 farmers in adopting cocoa agroforestry practices and distributed more than 840,000 multi-purpose trees for on-farm planting.

man scanning cocoa bean bag

Collaborative solutions

Moving forward, Cargill will continue to advance our CFI action plan in collaboration with industry partners.

We believe a “smart mix” of measures will be key to success, including new partnerships on the ground; action within the European Union to create a clear market demand for sustainable products; action by other consumer countries; and action by financial institutions and their regulators.

“We are working to understand the root causes of deforestation and address the interconnected issues leading to forest loss,” said van der Hoek. “Continued engagement in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire will be vital to ensure a thriving cocoa sector for years to come.”