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Making progress in solving a complex equation

May 02, 2022

Protecting, regenerating and conserving our planet’s resources is a complex equation which requires many different approaches, tools and partnerships – all woven together. This is how we’ve been furthering our work and driving progress in the past year toward the Protect Our Planet Strategic Action Plan, which we launched in 2018 to outline how we will transform our cocoa supply chains to be deforestation-free by 2030.

The plan is tied to our commitment to the Cocoa & Forest Initiative (CFI) – a partnership between the governments of top cocoa-producing countries and leading cocoa and chocolate companies to end deforestation and restore forests. Cargill is a signatory to CFI, and we recently published our latest update on our actions to help meet CFI’s objectives.

One of the biggest advances in the past year for our strategic action plan has been in deploying technology to give us unprecedented visibility into the supply chain, helping us map farms, trace cocoa, assess deforestation risk and engage suppliers. We do this not only in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire but in all five countries where we directly source our cocoa from farmers and farmer groups. We are also engaging third party suppliers to understand and address deforestation-related risks in their supply chains.

For example, we have used GPS to map the polygon farm boundaries of 64% of all farmers participating in the Cargill Cocoa Promise program. GPS polygon mapping is important because of its precise ability to map and monitor the individual sources of cocoa, which are frequently very small farms.

“Thanks to our investments in technology and partnerships, we are able to see the sources of our cocoa like never before, and that clarity will continue growing sharper,” said Sebastiaan van der Hoek, climate and land use advisor for Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business. “This monitoring benefits farmers, too, as it helps provide greater assurance to the market, consumers and regulators that they are growing cocoa in a responsible and sustainable way.”

Additionally, we are working with the World Cocoa Foundation, Climate Focus and World Resources Institute, as well as other cocoa companies, to develop a comprehensive dataset of cocoa plot locations in the direct supply chain and an aligned method for assessing deforestation risk to help realize effective landscape partnerships and contribute to deforestation monitoring. An aggregate view of cocoa plot locations across West Africa will provide a basis for identifying opportunities for pre-competitive collaboration. Paired with the outputs of the risk assessment, collaboration can proceed in the areas that matter most for addressing deforestation. The creation of the comprehensive dataset is underway, and a beta version of the risk assessment has been developed. The final risk assessment will go through a peer review process and be made available as a freely accessible public good through WRI’s Global Forest Watch platforms to help drive aligned deforestation risk management across the cocoa sector for impact at scale.

In April 2022, we signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Water and Forests to help protect and restore the Dassioko classified forest, which holds some of the last remaining tracts of high-conservation-value coastal rainforests in the country. The MOU includes helping communities near the forest create development plans that safeguard forest resources while also contributing to farmer livelihoods and overall community well-being.

Giving farmers new opportunities

Another dimension of our progress has been in agroforestry, which can help protect native forests while also providing additional income-generating opportunities for cocoa farmers.

“Agroforestry holds a great deal of promise to helping solve a challenging equation: protecting the planet and strengthening communities at the same time,” Sebastiaan said.

In 2020-21, we promoted cocoa agroforestry practices to more than 14,700 farmers across Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and distributed more than 1.1 million multi-purpose trees for on-farm planting. Since 2018, we have supported more than 30,000 farmers in adopting agroforestry and distributed nearly 2 million trees.

The success so far and the clear positive impacts are why we have recently expanded agroforestry projects with PUR Projet, IMPACTUM, FOA S.A.R.L. and Agromap that will continue to support on-farm restoration and forest protection in the buffer zones of important conservation areas.

“It is time to protect trees as our children,” said PUR Projet’s Diomandé Moussa, who works with farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. He went on to explain that everyone – farmers, cooperatives, NGOs and companies – have a role to play.


Measuring – and improving – impact

Another area where Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate is making steady progress is in measuring carbon emissions associated with our cocoa and chocolate products – and helping customers understand and address their carbon footprints. We recently conducted a thorough analysis based on established benchmarks that was verified by sustainability consulting firm Quantis.

We know that nearly all the emissions from Cargill’s cocoa and chocolate business come from Scope 3 – our supply chain. And the majority of those are due to land use changes, usually deforestation. It’s why we are taking actions through the key partnerships described above.

We have a very accurate view of our Scope 3 emissions which enables us to address these with attention, track progress and help our customers understand their carbon footprints and offer solutions to help reduce them. Customers can get visibility into their carbon emissions data and related insights through our CocoaWise™ Portal.

“We want to be the foremost partner in our customers’ minds when it comes to understanding the impact of the cocoa they buy, reducing that impact, and telling the story to the consumers who enjoy their products,” Sebastiaan said.


* Video Credits:  © Morgan Jouquand / Unforeseen Studio.