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There is no #chocolate without cocoa. But looking at the social and productivity challenges of cocoa farmers in West Africa - the largest supplier of cocoa in the world - we have to be brutally honest and ask the question: Will we still have enough cocoa in 20 years to satisfy #chocolate demand? Will there be #chocolate forever? That's why we, Barry Callebaut, decided to confront these challenges head on and commit to four bold targets to make sure there is 'Forever Chocolate’. Let's have a closer look at today’s challenges in West Africa’s cocoa supply chain and how we think we can address them!
Travelling to West Africa, where 70% of the world's cocoa is grown, reveals that today's cocoa supply faces manifold challenges. Challenges whose impacts are not limited to the about 2 million cocoa farmers in West Africa. It also affects all of us in the #chocolate consuming countries in Europe, the Americas or Asia. And we mean all stakeholders spanning the cocoa supply chain - from the cocoa and #chocolate industry, governments, NGOs up to the end consumer buying a #chocolate tablet in his or her favorite super market. Basically, there might not be #chocolate forever if we don't address challenges like: aging trees, low farm productivity, farmers living in poverty, the existence of child labor or young people who don't want to become cocoa farmers anymore.
To find out more about the challenges and how to overcome them, let's start from the very beginning of the cocoa supply chain, let's visit a cocoa farmer in Côte d'Ivoire.Poverty and low productivity the main challenges - not to forget child labor!
On an average cocoa farm in Côte d'Ivoire, a farmer produces approx. 400 to 500 kg cocoa during a year. This compares to 1 to 2 tonnes a year in other cocoa growing regions such as Latin America. The rather low productivity on Ivorian cocoa farms is the result of poor agricultural practices, nutrient depleted soil and aging cocoa trees. As a consequence, the average cocoa farmer's income is significantly below the World Bank's extreme poverty line of USD 1.90 per day. Such low income makes it impossible for farmers to live, first of all, a decent life, but also to invest in their farms or into new practices to increase productivity which would boost their income. The extreme poverty also keeps farmers from hiring professional workers, forcing them to rely on their family members, including their children. The latest Tulane Report says there are more children working in cocoa than ever - it is estimated that more than 2 million children are working on cocoa farms in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. As a leading company in the #chocolate industry we will not accept this as a given - and frankly, nobody should! However, child labor is a multidimensional challenge. Monitoring is not easy given the smallholder farm structure of West African cocoa farms. Families living below the poverty line cannot send their children to school - sometimes also birth certificates are missing, a precondition for school enrollment in Côte d'Ivoire for example. On top, there is still no widespread awareness among farmers that letting children do dangerous work is forbidden. That is why, tackling poverty is a key challenge to overcome, both for cocoa farmers but also for fighting child labor.
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