Ghana, Ivory Coast govts report on combined deforestation CFI action plans

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The governments of Ghana and Ivory coast, alongside 35 key companies in the cocoa and confectionery trade part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) have reported on combined actions tackling deforestation, writes Neill Barston.

As the collaboration explained, actions during the past year included a renewed focus on agroforestry with the distribution of 6 million non-cocoa trees by cocoa and chocolate companies in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, including Mars, Mondelez, Ferrero, Hershey, Cargill and Barry Callebaut, Olam, Lindt & Sprüngli Group, Nestlé, General Mills, Cémoi and Puratos.

According to the combined group, this brings the total number of forest trees supplied by the private sector since the launch of CFI to 10.4 million. Companies are also investing in large scale farmer training for better livelihoods and less incentive to encroach into forests.

The CFI initiative, which was signed at the end of 2017, was enabled by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), among other global authorities, centred upon confectionery and cocoa businesses working with government and NGOs and farmer groups and civil society organisations to drive impact on specific actions tackling deforestation.

Its emergence has been widely welcomed by the industry, but despite its creation, a recent Mighty Earth report noted that deforestation remains a significant problem within Ghana and Ivory Coast.

According to recent figures cited by Callebaut, Ivory Coast and Ghana respectively lost 25% and 8% of primary forest between 2002-2019, with a significant portion of deforestation attributable to cocoa farming expansion.

As recently reported by Confectionery Production, there have also been significant ongoing issues with illegal mining within cocoa growing territories, which has further worsened the problem – and led to government intervention in offering compensation to farmers impacted by the issue.

According to the combined group behind the CFI initiative, governments’ efforts have focused on applying the revamped frameworks that support the implementation of its key forest programme forged back in 2017.

This includes awareness-raising campaigns on the new Forest Code in Côte d’Ivoire, with notably the “1 day, 5 million trees” campaign planting one tree for every five Ivorians. To further develop cocoa agroforestry, 10 million trees are currently in nurseries and will be distributed to Ivorian farmers in 2021. Côte d’Ivoire has an objective to extend forest cover to 20% of the country by 2030 (up from 11% in 2015).

In Ghana, the government has a strong focus on delivering on the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Program (GCFRP) and has restored almost 226,000 hectares of forest area.

Landscape level approaches are being developed in priority areas such as Asunafo-Asutifi, Bia-Juaboso, Kakum and Bibiani-Anwianso-Sefwi-Wiawso, in partnership with companies, non-governmental organizations and local communities. This work will be accelerated in 2021 with the recently announced partnership between the Ghana Forestry Commission and WCF.

All signatories are improving the traceability of the cocoa supply chain. The government of Côte d’Ivoire mapped all cocoa farms through a national operation conducted by the Conseil du Café-Cacao. Companies reached on average 82% (Ghana) and 74% (Côte d’Ivoire) traceability in their direct supply chains and mapped about 605,000 cocoa farms in both countries.

Individual confectionery and cocoa companies have produced their own progress updates on the scheme, as we have covered this week. This includes Olam’s update, with Andrew Brooks, head of cocoa sustainability noting in a blog post, that he believed genuine progress was being made.

He said: “We are proud to be a dedicated partner of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI), a joint initiative between the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and leading cocoa and chocolate companies which aims end deforestation in the cocoa supply chain. ”

Combined action

Meanwhile address indirect sourcing through middlemen, the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have both launched work on national systems to achieve full traceability of the entire cocoa supply chain. To complement that mapping effort and monitor deforestation, the government of Côte d’Ivoire has adopted the IMAGES satellite monitoring system for the Cocoa & Forests Initiative.

Honorable Samuel A. Jinapor, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in Ghana, said, “The Ministry is proud to be the Chair of this unique multi stakeholder approach to halt further deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa supply chain. Despite the hard times faced because of COVID-19 in 2020, we are happy to present this cumulative progress report which reflects the efforts by both the Government and the cocoa and chocolate producing companies to conserve, protect and restore our forest. Going forward, the government of Ghana will remain fully committed to the CFI processes and ensure a fruitful partnership and collaboration with all partners.”

Honorable Alain-Richard Donwahi, Minister of Water and Forests in Côte d’Ivoire, said: “In addition to the major challenge of mobilising the financial resources required for the successful implementation of CFI, there is another linked to establishing the unified national cocoa traceability system and the national forest monitoring and deforestation early warning system alongside a monitoring and verification mechanism. 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.”

Mr. Chris Vincent, Interim President at World Cocoa Foundation, also welcomed the programme. He said: “Our work for forest positive cocoa is more urgent than ever, and we seem to be on the right track for tangible results. These joint progress reports are a testimony to the resilience of the sector and our excellent public/private collaboration on ending deforestation.

“In 2021/2022, cocoa and chocolate companies want to continue landscape approaches with local partners, ramp up the adoption of agroforestry and forest restoration in degraded areas, and partner on traceability and satellite monitoring with the governments.”

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