As expected, and revealed exclusively by Confectionery News earlier this the month, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) has officially launched ‘CocoaAction Brasil’ at its conference in Sao Paulo.
The program has the backing of Brazil’s chocolate and cocoa sector and is an initiative to coordinate the county’s major cocoa and chocolate companies, federal and state governmental bodies, sector associations, certification systems, and other stakeholders to address a range of sustainability issues regarding Brazil’s cocoa sector.
The conference, which attracted more than 300 cocoa sustainability experts and practitioners from around the world, centred on the theme ‘The New Frontiers of Cocoa Sustainability’.
Pedro Ronca, who works for the Brazilian agribusiness consulting firm P&A Marketing, made the announcement on behalf of WCF.
“CocoaAction Brasil is a pioneering model for cocoa sustainability that helps private sector companies work together across the supply chain, speak with a unified voice with national and local governments, and learn together through a consolidated monitoring and evaluation system,” he said.
He stated that the program will “work to find solutions that increase productivity; improve the quality of Brazil’s cocoa, including controlling pests and diseases; improve farmers’ living and working conditions; strengthen farmers’ organizations; and support sustainable forest-positive cocoa production systems.”
WCF President Rick Scobey said: “CocoaAction Brasil is committed to develop a true public-private partnership platform with the Brazilian government and has formed a National Committee to guide important decisions of cocoa sustainability in Brazil.”
A similar initiative also known as CocoaAction has been implemented in the West African nations of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which are the world’s top two producers of cocoa.
In his opening speech to the conference, Scobey said current opportunities in Brazilian cocoa include “the country’s status as a leader in the areas of reforestation and biodiversity preservation by cocoa through the country’s agroforestry and cabruca production models.”
Scobey also said that recent developments in the sector in Pará also hold “promise for modeling much higher farm-level productivity”.
Challenges noted by Scobey were a domestic supply gap that means Brazil must import approximately 70,000 tons of cocoa annually; low productivity on smallholder farms that ranges from 200-500 kilograms per hectare; too few farmer organizations and low farm incomes; and pest and disease threats, in particular the devastating Frosty Pod Rot (Moniliophthora roreri).
To date, leading multinational chocolate and cocoa industry members that have joined the CocoaAction initiative include Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Mars, Mondelēz International, Nestlé and Olam, as well as the Brazilian chocolate maker Dengo.
CocoaAction Brasil has the full support of relevant government ministries and Nira Desai, WCF’s lead for CocoaAction Brasil, said it will also draw on the expertise of cocoa sector partners through a Technical Committee that includes Ceplac; Embrapa; Cocoa Innovation Center an agricultural extension agencies.