West African Cocoa Giants Report Progress In Deforestation Fight

Ivory Coast and Ghana use initiatives to improve forest areas Cocoa has been a key driver of deforestation since the 1960s

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Cocoa giants Ivory Coast and Ghana reported progress in goals to end deforestation as they prepare for stricter European Union rules on production standards of the chocolate ingredient.

Top grower Ivory Coast is using satellites to monitor deforestation and planted almost 10 million trees in 2020, while Ghana restored about 226,000 hectares (558,000 acres) of forest area last year, according to reports by the public-private partnership known as the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, or CFI.

Cocoa production has been a major driver of deforestation in the two countries, which supply about 70% of the world’s beans, with Ivory Coast losing roughly 85% of its forest cover since the 1960s. Last year, a report published by the World Cocoa Foundation, which represents cocoa and chocolate industries, said targets for tree distribution set by the CFI were still far from being met.

Ivory Coast is seeking to extend forest area back to 20% of its territory by 2030, while companies are also investing in training farmers to improve livelihoods and reduce the incentive to encroach into forests, according to a statement on Wednesday.

The EU, the main destination for Ivorian beans, is gearing up to introduce legislation aimed at eliminating the risk that products sold in its territory cause deforestation. The bloc is also concerned about the use of child labor and fair income for cocoa farmers.

Beyond the CFI goals, the industry needs to develop systems that centralize data showing where the cocoa comes from and monitors forests, said Alain-Richard Donwahi, the Ivorian minister of water and forests.

“This is an important challenge to be addressed, given the increasing pressure from cocoa consumers and civil society organizations to ensure traceability of exported agricultural and forestry commodities,” he said.

The CFI is a partnership between the governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana, and 35 cocoa and chocolate companies.

– Bloomberg

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