Barry Callebaut partners with Nestlé on agroforestry project

Dive Brief:

  • Barry Callebaut announced it is partnering with Nestlé on agroforestry projects for its cocoa supply chain. The companies plan to plant trees and implement sustainable agriculture practices on nearly 30,000 acres of land with the help of over 6,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Agroforestry refers to a variety of farming methods where trees and shrubs are integrated into the growing environment of crops, in order to increase yields and sequester carbon. The farms are also more resilient to drought and disease. The partnership aims to remove up to 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over 25 years, the companies said.
  • The partnership follows Nestlé’s commitment to fund cocoa sustainability programs in its supply chain through 2030 for $1.4 billion and Barry Callebaut’s goal to transition to 100% sustainably sourced ingredients by 2025.

Dive Insight:

In the cocoa supply chain, sustainability involves improving both the livelihoods of farmers and lowering the environmental footprint of the operations. With this partnership, the chocolate makers are aiming to improve both.

Agroforestry in the cocoa supply chain can allow for carbon sequestration, greater biodiversity, and strengthened soil, sustainability activist group Mighty Earth said in a report. Barry Callebaut said in its press release that with the agroforestry projects, the companies aim to have healthier cocoa farms that are more resilient to diseases and drought.

One method being implemented by farmers includes growing cocoa under shade trees, which allows for both carbon sequestration and more nutrient retention in the soil, Barry Callebaut said. By implementing these practices, it can increase pollination in the soil and increase yields, which will help farmers increase their income, according to the cocoa supplier’s press release.

Through the partnership, the companies will pay farmers “on a yearly basis for the survival of the planted trees as a reward for carbon removal,” they said.

Cocoa producers have a long way to go to improve sustainability. Nonprofit Voice Network said in its Cocoa Barometer report last December that producers are failing to adequately address the most severe aspects of its supply chain, notably child labor — with 1.5 million children in West Africa currently working in adult jobs — providing a living wage for farmers and deforestation. Inaction on these fronts keeps farmers in poverty, the report said.

Nestlé’s cocoa sustainability efforts are focused on financial incentives for cocoa-growing families, giving cash to those who send their children to school and increasing the use of climate-friendly farming methods, it said upon announcing the program.

Barry Callebaut has also worked with Nestle to improve farmer livelihoods, but still only trace 30% of their cocoa to farms according to an October report.

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