Why cocoa companies failed to keep promise to stop Africa deforestation

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Major chocolate companies have failed to keep a promise they made a year ago to stop forests in West Africa being destroyed for cocoa production, a campaign group said on Friday.

Companies from Mars to Hershey to Barry Callebaut joined the governments of Ivory Coast and Ghana to launch the Cocoa and Forests Initiative last year, pledging to eliminate the production and sourcing of cocoa from protected forests.

But satellite images of Ivory Coast’s southwest cocoa-growing region showed about the same amount of forest had been lost in the 12 months since the pledge was made as in the previous year, campaign group Mighty Earth said in a report.

“I would have expected to see some deforestation continue, because it’s very hard to transform an entire industry overnight, but I did not expect to see it continue exactly the same as before,” said the report’s author, Etelle Higgonet.

If deforestation continues unabated, Ivory Coast – the world’s top cocoa producer – risks losing all its forest cover by 2034, environmental campaigners say.

But stopping it is a challenge since the cocoa grown on that land provides livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of farmers and their families.

Land is scarce, so poor farmers often expand into forests or parks to raise their incomes, experts say.

Mighty Earth recorded 13,748 hectares of deforestation – equivalent to 15,000 football fields – in Ivory Coast’s southwest region between Nov. 2017 and Sept. 2018.

This put it on track to reach about the same figure as last year – 14,827 ha – by November, Higgonet said.

The group was not able to obtain data as precise from Ghana, but observed a similar lack of change there, she added.

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the industry group behind the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, said recent reports show there has been progress in national parks and classified forests.

“Our immediate priority has been to stop deforestation in the most ecologically important and environmentally sensitive areas, and we are encouraged to see positive results in less than one year,” said WCF president Richard Scobey.

Most of the recent deforestation hotspots are in rural areas outside protected forests, which is legal but still environmentally damaging, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Mighty Earth also accused companies of not upholding their pledge to stop buying cocoa from national parks.

Ivory Coast has estimated 40 percent of its cocoa comes from protected areas.

“I feel like people are taking me for a fool. Because if you do the math … somebody’s buying it,” said Higgonet.

Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org

Related Content

Here are three reasons why Ghana’s cocoa farmers are trapped by the chocolate industry

The chocolate industry is worth more than $80 billion a year. But some cocoa farmers in parts of West Africa are poorer now than they were in the 1970s or 1980s.

Ghana expected to produce 850,000 tonnes of cocoa in 2019/20 season, at the lower end of average levels…Here’s why

Ghana, the world’s second largest cocoa producer, is expected to produce 850,000 tonnes of cocoa in 2019/20 season, at the lower end of average levels on account of...

Cote d’Ivoire issues 68 cocoa export licenses

Cote d’Ivoire has issued cocoa export licenses to 68 companies and cooperatives, but one of the country's largest exporters of the commodity is missing from this list. Edward George, Head of Group Research at EcoBank joins CNBC Africa to discuss the cocoa industry in Cote d'Ivoire.

Deforestation, poor urban planning caused deadly mudslide in Sierra Leone – Report

Deforestation, poor urban planning caused deadly mudslide in Sierra Leone – Report

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

Does the Competition Competition have capacity to clamp down on COVID-19 profiteering?

As South Africa sees a surge in COVID-19 infections, consumers are increasingly faced with overpriced products on the shelves. The Competition Commission continues to receive complaints, from customers who are already feeling the pinch. The question is, does the Competition Competition have the capacity to clamp down on price gouging? Joining CNBC Africa for this discussion is Makgale Mohlala, Head of Cartels at the Competition Commission and Shawn van der Meulen, Partner at Webber Wentzel.

Uganda’s central bank may cap commercial bank interest rates

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda’s central Bank (BoU) has threatened to cap the interest that commercial banks can charge borrowers, after the industry...

Jambojet set to resume domestic flights on July 15

Jambojet gears up for local flight resumption; lower oil imports and higher tea exports spell current account improvement and the Central Bank invites bids for millions in treasury bonds. Journalist, Joseph Bonyo joins CNBC Afric for more.

Chamber launches business clinics to support women-led businesses

Rwanda’s women entrepreneurs arm under the private sector federation body has launched a series of business clinics with the aim of supporting women-led businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. CNBC Africa spoke to Agnes Samputu, Executive Director of the Rwanda Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs for more.

Partner Content

Maktech’s Godwin Makyao: Now Is A Time of Entrepreneurial Opportunity in East Africa

As an executive decision-maker in both the telecommunications and tourism industries, Godwin Makyao could not have experienced a more diverse set of...

Sanlam launches urgent job-preservation initiative in response to COVID-19

Sanlam Investments is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through large-scale support of the recovery of South African companies, from small enterprises to...

Trending Now

Africa urged to test more as coronavirus cases exceed 500,000

The African Union Commission said on Thursday it had launched a consortium for vaccine clinical trials to be headed by the Africa CDC, which aimed to secure more than 10 late stage vaccine clinical trials as early as possible.

Malawi’s new female cabinet ministers vow to push for jobs for women

Women now hold 39% of the ministerial and deputy minister roles in the cabinet appointed by Chakwera, 65, who unseated Peter Mutharika in a re-run presidential election last month, which compared to about 20% in the previous government.

Dow, S&P 500 end lower on fears over surging virus cases but Nasdaq hits record high

he Nasdaq hit another record high, however, helped by gains in Amazon.com (AMZN.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

Eskom goes after contractors over R4bn Kusile over-payment

One of the power stations that were meant to be the saviour of South Africa’s power supply is causing controversy, even before it’s in full working order. In an explosive letter, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan named contractors that he says Eskom over-paid by R4 billion, in the construction of Kusile power station. Sikonathi Mantshantsha, National Spokesperson of Eskom joins CNBC Africa for more
- Advertisement -