We are committed to working to ensure the sustainability of the cocoa supply chain. Our business depends on cocoa. We believe we must contribute to ensuring that cocoa is grown in a sustainable way that generates income for farmers and that safeguards the environment. This is an urgent issue in many regions due to aging trees, neglected farms and poor farming practices.
On many Ivorian farms, for example, the practice of eliminating shade trees once the cocoa trees matured has led to the depletion of soils and increased vulnerability to pests and diseases. Productivity has dropped to 500 kilograms per hectare. For comparison, in other regions of the world where more sustainable farming practices are observed productivity levels of 1000 kilograms per hectare are not uncommon.
To further advance our “Quality Partner Program” with cocoa farmer cooperatives in Ivory Coast, 17 cooperatives have been selected for an ambitious 3-year sustainability project. By combining intensive training in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and social issues with commercial and logistical support to cooperatives and their farmer members, the program aims to empower farmers to improve their livelihoods. The goal is to help farmers to increase by 20% the productivity of their cocoa farms by achieving more cocoa per hectare, and to secure a better price for better quality cocoa that fulfils the requirements of industry standard certification schemes. As part of the project, Barry Callebaut will establish 150 farmer field schools and reach from 10,000 to 15,000 cocoa farmers. We expect to be able to buy 30,000 tonnes of certified cocoa from the participating cooperatives within three years, in response to the marked increase in demand for certified cocoa and chocolate products.