Cocoa Life previously signed a letter of intent with the Forestry Commission of Ghana and the UN Development Program (UNDP) to establish a REDD+ partnership in the West African nation last year, according to ConfectioneryNews.
‘All hands on deck’ approach
Mondelēz said Ghana Cocoa Board is a national government institution, and it will oversee the development and the implementation of the REDD+ Program alongside the country’s forestry commission.
“We need an ‘all hands on deck’ approach that engages both public and private sectors… We will lead project implementation and contribute $5m over five years to the [REDD+] program,” the company said.
It added that their joint action plan would be executed across several key areas, including mapping all land uses, increasing cocoa yields and sustainability, improving access to finance, legislative and policy reform, and verification.
Cocoa Life and Ghana Cocoa Board has been working on climate change related issues for a number of years before signing the new partnership, according to Cédric van Cutsem, global operations manager at Cocoa Life.
“We’ve hosted workshops and trained more than 1,400 cocoa farmers on sustainable farming practices,” he said.
‘Building solutions will take time’
Van Cutsem told ConfectioneryNews that Cocoa Life had engaged 30,100 Ghanaian farmers by the end of 2016. “Overall… we’ve reached 92,000 cocoa farmers in 861 communities [around the world], and 21% of cocoa we use is sustainably sourced,” he said.
However, Mondelēz’s percentage of 'sutainably sourced' cocoa has not improved since 2015, and Cocoa Life has no sustainability target like its competitors Hershey, Ferrero and Mars, who have pledged to source 100% certified cocoa beans by 2020.
Cocoa Life said in 2015: “In order to increase our sustainably-sourced volumes, we first need to expand the numbers of farmers participating in the program… it’s not realistic to say we will be totally Cocoa Life by 2020.”
Mondelēz said today: “It’s not realistic because our approach is meant to create lasting, transformative change in the cocoa supply change, which is constrained by a complex range of technical, environmental and socio-economic challenges,” the company’s spokesperson, Valerie Moens, told us.
“Building solutions will take time,” she added.
Cocoa Life plans to publish its 2017 progress report, which will include updated sustainability achievements, in Q1 2018, according to van Cutsem.