Cocoa Horizons initiative accelerates sustainable cocoa production

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Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, has trained 15,000 cocoa farmers from 50 farmer cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire in sustainable cocoa production, enabling them to become independently certified by Rainforest Alliance. The cooperatives are located throughout Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa production belt, with the majority located in Bas-Sassandra, the country’s biggest cocoa-producing region today.

Barry Callebaut pays the cooperatives a premium for the certified beans. Participating farmers receive half of the premium with the other half retained by the cooperative and used to provide services to its farmer members or for community facilities.

“We see great potential for more farmers to participate in certification training activities – including existing coop members as well as potential new members – once they see how their neighbors’ efforts pay off,” said Anke Massart, Project Manager Cocoa Horizons in Côte d’Ivoire. “Farms are more productive, families are healthier because of the focus on safety and farmers earn a premium for their certified beans. Plus, Barry Callebaut, with its years of engagement with farmers in the region, is a reliable and long-term partner for coops who are making the commitment to grow cocoa in a sustainable way.”

Barry Callebaut’s in-house certification team, based in Côte d’Ivoire, provides training in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and support in setting up internal control systems to help farmers and coop managers meet the environmental, social and economic criteria of Rainforest Alliance, an independent sustainability certification system for cocoa.

“We applaud the participating farmers on their achievements and commend the efforts of Barry Callebaut to train and provide support to the farmers and farmer organizations in Côte d’Ivoire who have embarked on the journey towards sustainable cocoa production,” said Elizabeth T. Kennedy, Director, Evaluation and Research, Rainforest Alliance. “Research demonstrates that Rainforest Alliance certification has improved the livelihoods, communities and environments of cocoa farmers, and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Barry Callebaut on these efforts.”

Recent studies commissioned by Rainforest Alliance and conducted by the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) have shown that certified cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire produced more cocoa per hectare compared with non-certified farms, while the costs of inputs such as labor, biocides and processing were roughly the same. Higher yields resulted in certified farmers earning higher net income – defined as a farm’s revenue from cocoa sales minus the costs of inputs – and applied more water protection measures and more soil conservation practices compared with farmers who were not certified.

COSA is a non-profit global consortium of institutions that uses an independent monitoring tool to analyze the social, environmental and economic impacts of agricultural practices.

Cocoa Horizons is Barry Callebaut’s ambitious CHF 40 million cocoa sustainability initiative, designed to boost farm productivity, increase quality and improve family livelihoods in key cocoa producing countries in West and Central Africa, Indonesia and Brazil over the next 10 years.

Source: Barry Callebaut