A comprehensive approach to sustainable cocoa production
CABOZ AG- Engaged for a more sustainable cocoa production in Ivory Coast
Since 2009 CABOZ is working along the cocoa supply chain to create perspectives for farmers and work towards a sustainable cocoa production. Together with its partner Caboz Action, CABOZ currently intervenes in parallel in four areas:
1) ensuring healthy and climate-resistant cocoa groves
2) improving local value creation and income
3) promoting young talent
Diversification and Renewal of Cocoa Plantations
Ivory Coast is the world's largest exporter of cocoa. Even though farmers struggle with over-aged farms, worn-out soils and low yields, the total production of Ivory Coast has steadily increased in recent years. This contradiction is explained on the hand by the excessive use of chemicals inputs and pest control, on the other hand with the increasing production of cocoa in the remaining tropical forests where soils are still fertile. Since 2018 CABOZ helps smallholders to renew their cocoa plantations on existing land and thus to increase their production again without clearing forest. To date 1148 farmers received 442,499 cocoa seedlings and around 30,632 shade tree seedlings from CABOZ’ own nursery. In addition to the seedlings farmers benefitted from continued training and advice by specialists. In total, the project helped renew and diversify more than 113 ha of over-aged and monoculture cocoa plantations. Whilst 98% of the cocoa seedlings survive, this is only true for a small percentage of the shade trees. As a response to this experience CABOZ will foster in the next project phase dynamic agroforestry systems where farmers can gain early benefits from a highly diversified production. This will help to convince farmers to turn their mainly monoculture production into an agroforestry system. Farmers increase their income and become more resistance to effects of climate change such as drought.
Village Cocoa Competence Centres
With financial support of the Swiss Government (SECO) CABOZ built two central fermentation units, which have become operational last year. Central fermentation shall help improve efficiency and output quality of the fermentation process. The utilisation of the central fermentation units so far remained behind original expectations as farmer communities yet need to gain confidence that this innovation will not negatively impact their income nor their position in the value chain. Hence, it will be important to make use of the central fermentation to generate additional income opportunities for the cocoa farmers, for example from the production of cocoa juice which is an increasingly demanded raw material for the beverage industry and production of chocolate and sweets.
Youth Farmer Field School
To ensure a sustainable cocoa production, it is key to offer income opportunities for the younger generation and offer them a long-term perspective for a decent living. Through its partner Caboz Action, CABOZ runs a program to promote and diversify the incomes of rural youth. Programs are combined with savings groups and lead to a high degree of self-financing of individual projects built by nearly 320 young participants. Small, regular contributions are pooled and managed in a fund. The savings groups then decide independently which projects receive a small loan from this fund. Examples of projects conducted are the production and sales of soaps and other cosmetic products, raising of livestock such as pigs and poultry, but also the production and sales of fruits and other staple crops for local markets. The total saving amounts far exceeded expectations and the payback rate was 100%.
Today many people question the sustainability of the cocoa supply chain. Recurring criticism of child labour put even established models such as UTZ/Rainbow Alliance or Fair Trade under pressure. The demands on licensees have risen accordingly. In 2020, numerous UTZ/RA certified organizations in Ivory Coast were even excluded. For CABOZ, which is selling close to 100% of its cocoa as certified cocoa, the yearly renewal of its Rainforest Alliance certification is key and only possible thanks to a highly committed and professional team on the ground. But the team is cognizant of the fact that further efforts will be needed to meet the increasing demands for transparency and traceability of chocolatiers and consumers. A newly established database and information system will enable CABOZ from the next harvest onwards to track its direct sourcing in a database down to the plantation level and regularly verify information about producers and plantations.