COLOMBIA – The government of Colombia, along with cocoa companies Casa Luker and Compañía Nacional de Chocolates, has pledged to eliminate deforestation from the country’s cocoa supply chain by 2020.
According to FoodBev, Colombia has joined the Cocoa and Forests Initiative, a global effort to ensure deforestation-free cocoa.
The governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire were the first two governments to sign and implement the agreement in 2017.
Colombia becomes the first country from Latin America to sign up to the scheme, which will be called the Cocoa, Forests and Peace Initiative.
The World Cocoa Foundation (WFC) said that cocoa has been identified as a priority for Colombian agricultural growth, both for domestic consumption and international export.
“Colombia is proud of the quality of the cocoa it produces, as well as its contribution to economic growth, rural employment, avoided deforestation and restoration of degraded land,” said Colombia agriculture minister Juan Guillermo Zuluaga.
“In a market characterised by a growing interest in zero-deforestation cocoa, with a positive story to tell about forests and peace, we hope Colombia’s signing up to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative will encourage greater interest and investment in the Colombian cocoa supply chain.”
FoodBev added that Colombia’s rates of deforestation have increased rapidly since the conclusion of the peace process, as remote areas of the countryside – once off limits – have seen rapid agricultural and livestock expansion and infrastructure development.
Recent data from Global Forest Watch and the National Meteorological Institute shows Colombia saw a 46% increase in tree cover loss in 2017, which was double the average loss from 2001 to 2015, but the country is taking significant steps to stop this trend, according to WFC.
The Cocoa and Forests Initiative was launched in 2017, in an effort led by WFC, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, and The Prince’s International Sustainability Unit.
“WCF congratulates the Colombian government and other stakeholders on their commitment to end cocoa-related deforestation in Colombia,” said WFC president Richard Scobey.
“We are delighted to support this initiative and, along with our members in the global chocolate and cocoa industry, will remain a trusted partner to ensure the sustainability of cocoa, the health of the planet, and the prosperity of cocoa farmers around the world.”