A new report presents a first set of principles for achieving sustainable, deforestation-free cocoa production. Eliminating Deforestation from the Cocoa Supply Chain analyzes current sustainability projects and best practices in the cocoa sector and makes the business case for moving toward deforestation-free production models. While global cocoa production relies almost entirely on 5 – 6 million smallholders, the processing level in the cocoa value chain is highly concentrated among several traders, grinders and chocolate producers. Even though deforestation occurs at the smallholder level, it is the companies, governments, and service providing NGOs that need to work to change policies and practices because the farmers have limited financial means and technical capacity to make the needed changes on their own. The report, released by the BioCarbon Fund and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) together with the World Cocoa Foundation and Climate Focus, describes overarching principles and key strategies that these stakeholders can implement to lay the groundwork for deforestation-free production in the cocoa sector: 1. Protection of natural primary and secondary forest: Companies can commit not to source cocoa associated with the deforestation of natural forest. 2. Legality: For producers and consumers, it is a priority to eliminate illegality within the cocoa supply chain. 3. Transparency: Companies, policy makers, and advocacy groups need to know who is driving deforestation and where. 4. Integration into long-term strategies: For the public sector, this means anchoring policies in long-term development strategies and legal frameworks. For the private sector, efforts that are supported at the CEO level and form an integral part of all operations will have the best success. 5. Operation at Scale: Larger-scale programs allow the establishment of incentives across a landscape, and economies of scale in information and extension services. Agricultural expansion is a well-known driver of deforestation, and much has been written about the usual suspects — palm oil, soy, cattle and wood products — which alone are responsible for 40 percent of global deforestation per year. But recently, cocoa – the essential ingredient in the world’s chocolate – is also being scrutinized for its role in unsustainable land use practices. There are several reasons for this. Cocoa grows best in forested – or formerly forested – areas. For many years, expanding production has encroached into and ultimately degraded forests to plant more cocoa trees. In West Africa in particular, cocoa has been identified as a major driver of deforestation which has led to serious soil degradation, water insecurity and crop failures in the region. This cocoa-related deforestation also affects biodiversity hotspots in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. More than 90 percent of production comes from smallholder farms that depend on cocoa for their livelihoods. These small farmers and their families have to be part of the move to more sustainable methods, but they often face challenges in adopting better production practices: low yields from older trees, pests and diseases that target cocoa plants, difficulty obtaining farming supplies, and limited access to financing for those improvements.
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