New project for environmental sustainability of cocoa industry

Cocoa producers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are to increase productivity, and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity under a new cooperation agreement.

The agreement was signed recently between the International Conservation Organisation, the Rainforest Alliance, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and financed by the Global Environment Facility.

A statement issued in Accra on Wednesday by Rainforest Alliance said the objective of this initiative was to transform production practices in major cocoa production countries and business practices in cocoa and chocolate companies.

It said such a major industry conserving biodiversity in its production landscapes would provide greater long term stability to all value chain participants and increase income for small holder farmers.

“The project will strengthen the commitment and capacity of the Rainforest Alliance to work with the cocoa and chocolate industry to achieve biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods in tropical landscapes,” said Edward Millard, Director of Sustainable Landscapes at the Rainforest Alliance.

The six-year project will work in 10 countries, which have been selected according to their importance for biodiversity; the interest of the industry in supply of sustainable cocoa from the country; and geographical balance for the project.

The countries in Africa include Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Madagascar.

In Asia, the project will work in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea; and in Latin America in Brazil, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Peru.

The statement said across the 10 countries, the project aimed to bring 10 per cent of the world’s cocoa production – 350,000 tonnes, farmed on 750,000 hectares by 250,000 farmers – into more sustainable production systems that would measurably improve biodiversity conservation in tropical ecosystems.

“As the two largest cocoa producing countries, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are expected to make up at least 50 per cent of that target by 2016, “according to estimates by Christian Mensah, the Rainforest Alliance’s representative in Ghana.

Under the initiative, farmers would have access to training and technical assistance that would enable them to apply sustainable agriculture practices and move towards Rainforest Alliance certification.

The sales target for the end of the project is for annual sales of 165,000 tonnes, of which up to 100,000 tonnes would come from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 182 member governments — in partnership with international institutions, non-governmental organisations, and the private sector providing grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, linking local, national, and global environmental challenges in order to promote sustainable futures for all.

Established in 1991, the GEF is today the largest public financier of projects to improve the global environment investing in over 2,700 projects.

The Rainforest Alliance works with people whose livelihoods depend on the land, helping them to transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travellers.

From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, businesses and consumers worldwide are involved in the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where the demand for sustainability is growing steadily.

Source: GNA

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