‘Still a lot more to be done to protect and restore forests and improve cocoa farmer livelihoods’

Q: Why is deforestation an issue in the cocoa industry?

Andrew Brooks​: The root cause is low farmer incomes. Most cocoa farmers have small amounts of land, so they can’t grow enough cocoa to fully support their families. To bring in extra income, they may resort to clearing more land to farm. That’s why we focus not only on protecting and restoring forests but on improving farmer incomes too.

At ofi, we are committed to driving change and will continue to play our part, working closely with governments, customers, and partners. — Andrew Brooks, ofi’s Head of Cocoa Sustainability

At the same time, there has been an influx of immigrant farmers into Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana from sub-Saharan Africa. Struggling to earn enough on subsistence crops at home, many see cocoa as the best option to make more money and cross borders to set up illicit cocoa farms and networks in poorly protected national parks and forest reserves.

Q: What is the Cocoa & Forests Initiative?

AB​: In 2017, ofi, along with 34 other leading cocoa and chocolate companies, and the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana came together with the World Cocoa Foundation to create CFI. It aims to help end deforestation and restore forest areas while also helping cocoa farming communities to thrive. Together, we’ve taken action to tackle deforestation and work with farming communities that depend on cocoa for their livelihoods, both in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and across our global cocoa supply chain.

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