GHANA – Barry Callebaut, one of the world’s largest cocoa producers and grinders has signed a letter of intent with Ghana and Ivory Coast to clear and replant trees infected with swollen-shoot virus disease in an initiative to ensure sustainable cocoa farming.

The initiative, in collaboration with Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the Coffee Caco Council of Côte d’Ivoire also focuses on eradication of child labour, supporting women and young cocoa farmers.

As part of its sustainability programme, Barry Callebaut aims to have 100% sustainable ingredients in all of its products, these including dairy products, sugar, palm oil, soy lecithin, hazelnuts, vanilla, coconut oil, and, of course, cocoa.

The authorities together with Barry Callebaut agreed to combine expertise and resources as they accelerate interventions towards sustainable cocoa farming in Ghana.

Barry Callebaut said all the parties will cooperate in agroforestry, income diversification for cocoa farmers, planting of shade trees as well as eradication of child labour.

“Ensuring the coexistence of cocoa farming with the protection of our country’s classified forests is a high priority for the Ivorian government, as is also exemplified by the Cocoa and Forests Initiative Framework for Action,” said Alain Richard Donwahi, Minister of Waters and Forests Côte d’Ivoire.

“The letter of intent cements the strategic partnership between government and industry required to make this coexistence happen.”

The company has a series of sustainability initiatives, including declaring membership to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil since 2011 with a goal to ensure 100% of palm oil is sustainably certified by 2020.

Earlier this year, it launched the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa in a bid to create the market pull for sustainably sourced cocoa.

The platform includes 41 members from Swiss cocoa industry who agreed to source 80% of imported cocoa-containing products from sustainable cultivation by 2025.

In a sustainability strategy “Forever Chocolate” to ensure that all packaging comes from sustainable sources by 2025, the company moved to sourcing sustainable carton in EMEA in 2017