Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate highlights sustainability in Ghana with investment plans and farmer support

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07 Dec 2018 --- Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate has commemorated its 10th anniversary in Ghana by announcing plans for future investment and farmer support. The initiatives are informed by the principles underpinning the Cargill Cocoa Promise – the company’s commitment to improving the livelihoods of farmers and communities. And Cargill's ambition is to secure a “thriving cocoa sector for generations to come.”

Deforestation is one of the biggest causes of global warming and threatening the ecosystem that provides chocolate ingredients. In the past, the cocoa industry has been widely criticized for its involvement in child labor and environmental degradation. Reports of under-age minors being made to work in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and other cocoa-producing countries date back two decades or more. According to the 2018 Cocoa Barometer, a report by 15 European non-profit organizations, as many as 2.1 million child laborers are working in West Africa alone.

Cargill’s 2022 roadmap for Ghana includes: 

• 80,000 farmers receiving capacity building support and facilitated access to inputs through its Farmer Field Schools.  

• The provision of one million new cocoa seedlings for rehabilitation of old farms and 200,000 shade tree seedlings to protect cocoa trees and improve biodiversity.

• Access to crop protection for 30,000 farmers. 

• Completion of 100 percent mapping of farms; using geolocation and perimeter of the farms to allow deforestation monitoring and farm development.

• 9,000 hectares of cocoa developed into a cocoa agroforestry system within the Cocoa & Forest Initiative.

Commenting during the anniversary celebration event at Cargill’s cocoa processing facility in Tema, Ghana, Managing Director Pieter Reichert, says: “Our 2022 roadmap is fully aligned with our global sustainability goals and consolidates our continuing support for a sustainable cocoa business here in Ghana. Completion of our mapping program will ensure farm sizes are accurately recorded to support farmers in decision making and investment. At the same time, 80,000 farmers will be trained in good agricultural, environmental and social practices to support certification.”

Investing in innovation 

During the event, Harold Poelma, President of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, emphasized the importance of a sustainable cocoa industry and growing the sector using innovation. Click to Enlarge

“We must embrace new technologies as a way for Cargill to drive sector growth. For example, e-money allows Cargill to buy cocoa directly from farmers and their cooperatives and pay them by electronic transfer, ensuring the money reaches them safely and accurately.”

“Ultimately, this improves the livelihoods of farmers and their communities. At the same time, new technological solutions are driving more precise, accurate traceability within the cocoa supply chain,” he explains. 

Cargill also launched its Ghana licensed buying company, Cargill Kokoo Sourcing Company Limited, in 2016 across four districts, introducing innovations such as barcodes to enable the full traceability of cocoa beans, as well as apps, electronic money transfer and cloud-based information systems, all which are new to the Ghanaian market. Cargill Kokoo Sourcing Company now operates across 11 districts, with Ghc6 million (US$1.25 million) in premium payments paid to date, benefitting more than 13,000 farmers. By 2022, it is anticipated that all of Ghana’s cocoa farmers in its direct supply chain – around 80,000 in total – will benefit from electronic payment and tracking, says Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate.  

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Taco Terheijden, Director of Cocoa Sustainability, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, says: “The Cargill Cocoa Promise, our commitment to sparking a more sustainable cocoa sector for generations to come, has become our business model and the way we operate and source cocoa. In 2019, we will continue to take forward a range of sustainability initiatives linked to our Global Sustainability Goals. We will more and more use new technologies to drive progress, gather data and develop the transparency and traceability that our customers request.” 

This includes working with and strengthening cooperatives, says Terheijden. “The training program through which 80,000 farmers in Ghana are receiving capacity building support in our Farmer Field Schools; our Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) to combat child labor; and the technology innovations via our licensed buying company aiding traceability, and our e-money business model which ensures money reaches farmers swiftly, safely and accurately.”

In Brazil, Cargill is currently working to grow the sustainable cocoa sector. There the company has developed partnerships with organizations such as UTZ; Solidaridad and TNC to benefit farmers and their communities and are extending their GPS farm mapping program

“Training is a key way to support farmers and is something we undertake in all the countries in which we operate,” Terheijden continues. “In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, we have the Cargill Coop Academy, which combines 28 days of intensive classroom training with a year of personalized on-the-ground coaching.”

“We are always looking at new initiatives and approaches to support our farmers, whether they are working in Brazil, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, or of course Ghana,” he adds.  

A focus on sustainability

Innovation is also vital to Cargill’s sustainability approach in Ghana, with a range of initiatives undertaken including the installation of a fully automated, digital solar power system at its Tema facility to diversify its energy supply. This investment in renewable energy is part of Cargill’s commitment to continuously decrease the environmental impact of its businesses and contributes towards Ghana’s target of having 10 percent renewable energy in its electricity generation mix by 2020. 

Combating deforestation is also central to Cargill’s sustainability approach. As a signatory of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative – a global collaboration to end deforestation related to cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – Cargill is committed to zero deforestation in its global supply chain by supporting activities to promote sustainable farming practices and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their communities. Towards 2022, Cargill has committed to developing 9,000 hectares of land into a cocoa agroforestry system within the Cocoa & Forest Initiative.

“Deforestation is also a key issue for us. We are committed to zero deforestation in our global supply chain by supporting activities to promote sustainable farming practices and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers and their communities” Terheijden notes.

Poelma adds: “Cargill has put the creation of sustainable cocoa supply chains at the forefront of our presence in Ghana, expanding farmer training in good agricultural practices, supporting the development of cooperatives and working with our partners towards zero deforestation, not just in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, but globally too.”

“Together, we must balance forest protection and take into account farmers’ economic livelihoods and global food security needs. I encourage the Ghanaian government to keep to this commitment and support the industry’s effort to address deforestation. This is a top priority,” he concludes. 

Earlier this week, Barry Callabaut also highlighted their progress on making “sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025.”

By Elizabeth Green

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