IVORY COAST – The European Union and its partners have announced they are raising 450 million euros (US$442 million) to support Ivory Coast’s push to tackle child labour and deforestation linked to cocoa production, while also improving farmer pay.

Team Europe, made up of the EU, its member states and multilateral European lenders, indicated that the new funding would boost the strategy by Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa grower, to make production of the key chocolate ingredient more sustainable, reports Bloomberg.

The financial backing will strengthen the partnership between Team Europe and the cocoa-producing countries, and aims at ensuring a decent living income for farmers, halting deforestation and eliminating child labour.

The announcement follows the ongoing dialogue on sustainable cocoa, dubbed the ‘Cocoa Talks’, involving the EU and public and private stakeholders, along with selected representatives of the two main producing countries, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

The objective of this dialogue is to enhance cooperation and coordination to support sustainable cocoa production in the framework of the Living Income Differential (LID) initiative, launched by the two producer countries to ensure decent revenue to local farmers.

Ivory Coast and Ghana boycotted last month’s World Cocoa Foundation Partnership Meeting in Brussels, where a group representing 80% of the industry met to discuss sustainability issues across the sector.

As ConfectioneryNews reports, both countries told the WCF they would not attend because of pricing issues regarding their beans.

Other than the funding, the EU, which buys about 60% of the top producers’ cocoa, is planning new legislation that would compel exporters to ensure all their beans are certified as early as 2024 to prove the supply chain didn’t use child labour or cause deforestation.

Less than 15% of Ivory Coast’s cocoa and only approximately 12% of beans from Ghana, the world’s second largest cocoa producer, are certified, according to regulators.

Cocoa is a major contributor to export earnings, as well as the main source of livelihoods for almost seven million farmers in Ivory Coast and Ghana. Indirectly, it contributes to the livelihoods of further 50 million people.

At the same time, cocoa production entails particular risks relating to child labour, low revenues for local farmers, deforestation and forest degradation, according to the EU – the world’s largest importer of cocoa, accounting for 60% of world imports.

At an individual capacity, companies such as Mondelēz International are continuing to undertaken different projects in the cocoa growing regions to ensure a more sustainable and integrated farming approach.  

The multinational confectionery has launched the next phase of its Cocoa Life program backed by an additional US$600 million through 2030, bringing its total investment to US$1 billion since the start of the program.

Backed by the additional financing, Mondelēz seeks to increase the number of farming households reaching a living income, enhance child protection systems and access to quality education in Cocoa Life communities, and seek no deforestation on Cocoa Life farms globally. 

Cocoa Life is helping to address these challenges holistically across six cocoa-growing countries: Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, India and Brazil.

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