01 Mar 2018 --- Cocoa giant Barry Callebaut is starting its first-ever “Forever Chocolate” pilot program in one of the world’s key growing regions, Indonesia, where theories of change will be put to the test in a bid to speed up a systemic change in cocoa farming.
Determined to drive change within the cocoa farming industry, leaders Barry Callebaut is launching five pilot programs in cocoa origin countries – and the inaugural campaign begins in Indonesia.
The idea is that theories and methods will be put to the test on the ground to see how practical they are – all in the name of driving sustainable cocoa farming.
Barry Callebaut – in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research which will provide robust, scientific support to provide the baseline and analytical framework against which all outcomes can be assessed the – aims to accelerate impact, to test innovative approaches, and learn if these approaches will effectively help reach “Forever Chocolate” targets.
And even more vital is to examine whether the approaches made on the ground, as part of the pilot, will be scalable, replicable and self-sustaining models that can be used elsewhere.
Among some of the key targets are increasing the income of farmers, eradicating child labor and transforming cocoa farming into a carbon positive industry.
“The problems in the cocoa supply chain have been clearly identified, but the solutions to these problems, we recognize, are not so evident,” says Oliver Von Hagen, who is responsible for the Forever Chocolate pilots.
“But, what we know is this: low productivity on cocoa farms from poor agricultural practices, nutrient depleted soil and aging cocoa trees means that many farmers exist in a state of poverty.”
“This means that farmers are unable to invest in their farms, and therefore continue to have low productivity and income. The consequence is that family members, who may include children, may end up working in the fields.”
Adding to this complexity, deforestation and climate change mean that the land suitable for growing cocoa will be significantly reduced in West Africa, he says, and if the industry does not reduce its carbon footprint and achieve zero net deforestation in its supply chain, the ecosystem will continue to suffer.
What can be achieved by the pilot programs?
Von Hagen explains how Barry Callebaut will create and test individual multi-year farm development plans (FDPs), which include productivity packages, replanting services and financing solutions, for farmers.
FDPs are designed to be work plans which enable farmers to develop their farms into rehabilitated, diverse, professionally run farms over a period of several years.
“From this pilot, we hope to answer questions like, to what extent are farmers able and willing to use these farm services? How can the FDP and farm services create more income for farmers and which alternative crops are the best option to diversify farmers’ income?” he continues.
Achieving zero child labor
In order to tackle child labor, the pilot programs will focus on supporting and incentivizing cocoa farmer communities to monitor, remediate and prevent child labor on cocoa farms.
“While we believe that monitoring and remediation is an important step in this process, we must also focus on targeting the root causes of child labor, as well as changing the system and the cultural awareness and acceptance of this practice. This means working closely together with local governments in origin countries to create an enabling environment to be able to achieve this.”
In terms of the thriving nature, Von Hagen says the pilot will focus on low carbon technologies and carbon sequestration as well as the capture and storage of carbon so that it is not released into the atmosphere.
“From this pilot we will investigate the viability of on-farm production of organic fertilizers, which non-cocoa trees and crops can best benefit farmers as well as provide carbon capture benefits, and, which low carbon technologies can deliver emission reductions at scale,” he adds.
Pilot programs across five cocoa growing regions
Following this first pilot in Indonesia, others will take place in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon and Brazil.
Barry Callebaut has many people on the ground in these countries helping to manage the pilots in each county and by the company’s own sustainability teams.
“The launch of the pilots is the formal start for the collection of the data we need to measure baseline and progress and identify critical impact factors. It also means kicking off our work with the many partners we will engage within the course of the pilots, and of course, testing innovative tools and approaches. Our goal for this year is to get all five pilots running and have first intermediate results towards the end of the year,” Von Hagen explains.
Barry Callebaut stresses that it cannot achieve its Forever Chocolate targets alone. Commitments and investment are needed from industry as well the right policies from governments.
“This is really about creating a movement – and together, I believe we can make sustainable chocolate the norm.”
Barry Callebaut has the vision to be the leader in innovation, implementation and impact in cocoa sustainability globally and last September, the company was featured in a FoodIngredientsFirst special report looking into what the industry is doing in terms of sustainable cocoa farming. Read more here.
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