WEST AFRICA – Nestlé, the Swiss multinational food and drink processing company has reported significant progress in its efforts to help end deforestation and restore forests in its cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

In 2017, Nestlé joined the Cocoa & Forests Initiative in collaboration with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana with the cocoa and chocolate industry, to contribute to ending deforestation.

This was later followed by Nestlé releasing a detailed plan to support these collective efforts and act in its Nestlé Cocoa Plan supply chain In March 2019.

According to the company’s published report, over the past months, Nestlé has mapped over 75% of the 120,000 cocoa farms it sources from in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The boundaries of the plantations have been identified with Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers, ensuring that none of them are located in protected forests.

By October this year, Nestlé targets that all remaining farms will be mapped in the two countries.

In addition, Nestlé has scaled up the number of native forest and fruit trees it has distributed in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, from 32,000 in 2018 to now reaching a total of more than 560,000.

These cast shade on cocoa trees make farms more climate-resilient, while the fruit trees provide additional income for cocoa farmers.

The company has also kicked off two agroforestry projects, working closely with communities to maximize shade tree density on farms to help improve yields.

Nestlé has continued to train farmers on good agricultural practices and forest protection. Over 85,000 farmers participated in the training program in 2019.

To reduce pressure on forests and help improve family health, Nestlé has distributed over 800 more efficient and less polluting cookstoves.

The company has contributed to financial support through the creation of village savings and loan associations for over 9,400 people in both countries.

They can take loans when needed, for example, to finance small business opportunities, with funds returned at the end of the year.

Alexander von Maillot, Senior Vice President, Head of Confectionery Strategic Business Unit, Nestlé S.A., said, “We have made good progress across all the primary objectives we set out under our Cocoa & Forests Initiative action plan. Sustainable cocoa requires thriving communities.”

“Our actions take into account the need to balance forest protection and communities’ livelihoods. As we forge ahead with our efforts to embed sustainability in the cocoa sector, we will continue to focus on providing farmers with viable alternatives to grow the same amount or even more cocoa on less land.”

Addressing deforestation linked to cocoa is part of Nestlé’s ambition to transform its agricultural supply chain, making it more climate-friendly and resilient.

This move will help the company achieve its ‘2050 net-zero pledge’. To this end, Nestlé is deploying nature-based solutions, like reforestation, to absorb more carbon, improve soil health, and enhance biodiversity.

Other cocoa and chocolate industry players in the region have also set out initiative to promote sustainable cocoa production and thriving communities such as Olam cocoa.

Olam Cocoa, one of the world’s leading cocoa suppliers has introduced the first of its kind, Child labour monitoring and remediation program to be rolled out in Cameroon as part of its global commitment to put children first by tackling child labour.

The new digitally-led initiative enhancing measures is aimed to help more children attend school across its entire direct supply chain.

Beyond Cameroon, the app will be used to cover nearly 223,000 farmers in 3 countries across West Africa, prioritizing where the risk is highest.