Africa

Sweet Nothings: Deforestation Remains High across Ghana & Côte d’Ivoire

In February 2022, Mighty Earth published our Sweet Nothings report in which we highlighted the unfulfilled promises of cocoa buyers and chocolate companies to halt cocoa-driven deforestation in West Africa and beyond. Our investigation uncovered evidence of ongoing tropical forest destruction in the key cocoa-growing regions of both Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. 

 One year on, we’ve taken another look at the satellite data and, sadly, the overall picture has not improved. Deforestation across Côte d'Ivoire & Ghana’s cocoa growing regions in 2022 remained stubbornly high. RADD alerts — radar alerts that highlight forest loss in near-real time — picked up over 8,000 hectares (ha) of forest disturbance in Côte d'Ivoire, the most since 2019. In Ghana, RADD alerts highlighted over 12,000 ha of disturbance, similar to the amount of forest lost in 2021.  

This is concerning as it has now been several years since the cocoa industry committed to take action on deforestation. At the November 2017 UN Climate Change Conference, the governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana – along with cocoa traders and leading chocolate manufacturers (including Nestlé, Hershey’s, Mondelez, Unilever, and Mars) – signed the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) Framework for Action. This was followed in early 2019 by the publication of detailed action plans, raising hopes that companies across the cocoa supply chain would take decisive measures to end deforestation caused by the expansion of cocoa plantations in West Africa and work to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems.   

 Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that companies and governments have failed to make progress since this time. In Cote d’Ivoire, tree cover loss in cocoa growing regions has steadily increased from 5,500 ha in 2019 to 8,400 ha in 2022.  In Ghana, the trend is less consistent, but just as dire. Tree cover loss in cocoa growing regions has averaged ~12,000 ha since 2019, with ~12,350 ha in 2022.  

This is particularly concerning as Ghana is estimated to have lost 65% of its forest cover over the past thirty years, while Côte d’Ivoire has lost as much as 90% of its forests over a similar period.  With a 2018 estimate showing just ~1,007,000 ha of primary humid tropical forest remaining in Ghanaian cocoa growing regions, and 1,035,000 ha in Côte d'Ivoire, these losses are very significant: 4.7% of remaining forests have been lost in Ghana over the past four years, and 2.6% in Cote d’Ivoire.  


Source: Analysis (in Google Earth Engine) based on data from Wageningen University, in collaboration with World Resources Institute‘s Global Forest Watch program, Google, European Space Agency, University of Maryland and Deltares (2020). 

Furthermore, estimates of forest loss based on RADD alerts are likely quite conservative, as they monitor a  tropical forest basemap that only includes dense, humid tropical forests. IMAGES, the ‘official’ platform for forest monitoring adopted by both the CFI and Ivorian government paints an even scarier picture as the platform monitors more forest coverage than RADD: data from the IMAGES platform shows that more than 54,000 ha disturbance alerts were detected in Côte d'Ivoire’s cocoa growing regions in 2022, higher than both 2020 & 2021. 

 Source: Data from the IMAGES Platform's Early Warning System, licensed by Vivid Economics & co-financed by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP).

 With new legislation soon banning the sale of agricultural products linked to deforestation on EU markets, companies and governments in West Africa now have no choice but to take seriously their previous commitments to protect forests in cocoa growing regions. Mighty Earth once again calls upon the CFI and its members to adopt a publicly available deforestation monitoring system, publish supply chain information related to cocoa sourcing, support sustainable cocoa-growing practices, and actively work to rehabilitate degraded forest landscapes. 

For more information on our data and calculations, please rexplore Mighty Earth’s Cocoa Accountability Maps for Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana or reach out to [email protected]


Sustainability initiatives will fail until companies pay more for cocoa warns new report co-published by Mighty Earth

Sustainability initiatives will fail until companies pay more for cocoa warns new report co-published by Mighty Earth

Endemic sustainability issues within global cocoa supply chains, including child labour and deforestation, will continue unless efforts are coupled with the payment of a higher farmgate price for cocoa, according to the 2022 Cocoa Barometer.  

 The report finds that a combination of public policies, private sector purchasing practices, and agricultural solutions are needed. 

 The Barometer – developed by the VOICE Network of civil society organizations, of which Mighty Earth is a member – shows that there remains a wide range of problems facing families in cocoa communities, including child labour; gender inequality; (infant) malnutrition; lack of access to education; insufficient health care facilities and sanitation; and a variety of labour rights violations for smallholders, workers, and tenants. Environmental issues such as deforestation and climate change remain a growing concern. 

 Without a significant increase in earnings, cocoa farmers will be burdened with the responsibility for addressing this range of issues without the means or incentives to do so. As such, environmental and social harms such as deforestation and child labour are likely to continue in the world’s major cocoa producing countries Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.  

 Dr Julian Oram, Senior Director at Mighty Earth, said:   

 “Commodity traders and chocolate companies talk a good talk about wanting to protect forests and tackle social problems such as child labour that continue to plague the cocoa industry. But ultimately, they need to put their money where their mouth is by paying farmers more so they can earn a living income for growing cocoa sustainably”. 

 Top-down national and international government strategies aimed at increasing cocoa production to address poverty tend to support the chocolate industry while failing to address these issues. Additionally, the cost-of-living crisis is putting further pressure on farmers in West Africa. 

 Yao Kouame Martia, of the cocoa cooperative ECAM, in the south-west of Côte d’Ivoire, said: 

“In the past, after selling my cocoa beans, I used to plan my expenses and charges for my household, but this is becoming very difficult now. Prices of products are far beyond my provisions. I have children to care about and I‘m struggling to pay their school fees”. 

 Other Measures Ineffective in Isolation 

 New data and models launched with this Barometer confirm that development measures aimed at increasing productivity and diversification will be ultimately ineffective without real efforts to close the living income gap through higher farmgate prices. Likewise, development programmes alone are incapable of reducing deforestation, the use of hazardous pesticides or entrenching the long-term adoption of good agricultural practices. 

 Despite this evidence, most cocoa-purchasing companies continue to operate business as usual, supporting development programmes while refusing to directly address their own purchasing practices – including pricing.  

 Hayford Duodu, a cocoa farmer in Ghana, said:  

 “The one thing that affects us farmers is the pricing of cocoa beans. In fact, pricing is a disincentive to cocoa farmers”. 

 According to the VOICE Network, raising productivity or increasing farm size will never work in isolation to address the myriad of problems in the global cocoa supply chain. 

 Antonie Foundation, Director of the VOICE network said:   

 “Paying a higher price is inevitable if the living income gap is to be closed. Interventions such as the Ivorian-Ghanaian Living Income Differential are necessary first steps, but companies need to go far beyond that to ensure the farmgate price goes up.” 

 The Barometer suggests that colonial-era dynamics in cocoa supply chains, which saw vast wealth extracted from cocoa producing regions, continue to influence corporate and political attitudes to the problem, with the wealth generated in consuming countries through cocoa, still dwarfing investments in development programmes. To address this imbalance, autonomous farmer organizations such as cooperatives need to be strengthened and supported by national and local government initiatives in producing countries. 

 

Action Needed on Three Fronts 

 The Barometer concludes that, in order for living income to become a reality for cocoa farmers, action is needed on three separate fronts: good governance policies by public bodies; good purchasing practices by the private sector; and good agricultural practices by farmers.  

For the past two decades, however, almost all of the cocoa sector efforts have been focused on farmers themselves, sidestepping the necessary changes in government policy and purchasing practices needed to tackle sustainability issues. 

 

In this context, recent efforts by the EU to establish ‘due diligence’ directives aimed at curbing environmental and social harms in global supply chains, including cocoa, are a welcome first step towards creating a more transparent supply chain. This is essential for keeping companies accountable for their purchasing practices. Ultimately even these positive policy developments will come to nothing if companies do not take action soon: they need to pay a higher price. 

 To read the full Barometer, or see the full list of recommendations for governments, corporations and farmers, see:  https://cocoabarometer.org/en/ 

 ABOUT THE COCOA BAROMETER  

The Cocoa Barometer is published biennially by a global consortium of civil society actors:  ABVV/Horval, Action against Child Exploitation (ACE), Be Slavery Free, EcoCare, European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT), Fair World Project, Fern, Freedom United, Green America, IDEF, Inades Formation, INKOTA-netzwerk, Global Labor Justice/International Labor Rights Forum, Mighty Earth, Oxfam America, Oxfam Belgium, Oxfam Ghana, Oxfam Novib, Public Eye, Rikolto, Roscidet, SEND Ghana, Solidaridad, Südwind Institut, Tropenbos International, Tropenbos Ghana, WWF France. 

 

For free to publish photos and infographics from the report, please use this link 


Mighty Earth launches new interactive map to track cocoa-driven deforestation in Ghana

Mighty Earth launches new interactive map to track cocoa-driven deforestation in Ghana 

Forest loss in the West African country remains high despite government and industry pledges to reduce it 

Link to map here 

The launch of Mighty Earth’s new Cocoa Accountability Map for Ghana comes as the organisation reveals forest loss in the country remains stubbornly high, despite pledges by the Ghanian government and the chocolate industry to reduce cocoa-driven carbon emissions and forest loss.  

Latest figures show 10,550 hectares of deforestation this year within cocoa-growing regions, with 8,188 hectares of this clearance occurring within forest reserves. It is likely that much of this clearance has been for cocoa plot expansion. 

Mighty Earth has been working with RADD (Radar for Detecting Deforestation) forest-alert data from 2019 onwards to identify areas of recent land clearance across Ghana, which has lost more than 2.5 million hectares (33.7%) of its forest since the early 1990s.1 The open-source map for the Ghanaian cocoa industry consolidates data layers to provide greater transparency around deforestation linked to cocoa industry supply chains. The initiative provides visibility to cocoa cooperatives, with data released by Whittaker, Barry Callebaut, Olam, Blommer, Ecom, Ferrero, Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and Tony’s Chocolonely.2  

Dr Julian Oram, Senior Director for Africa at Mighty Earth said:  

“It is possible to prevent cocoa from deforested areas ending up in chocolate products, but two things need to happen. Firstly, small scale farmers, which are the bedrock of the industry, need to be properly remunerated, creating a disincentive to farm in forest reserves, or protected areas. Secondly, we need effective monitoring, which is where our Ghana Cocoa Accountability Map comes in. Our aim is for farmers, cocoa companies, NGOs, and governmental organizations to work together to end deforestation in supply chains and meet commitments for full traceability from farm gate to chocolate product.” 

The new interactive map highlights deforestation hotspots, including those within protected areas and forest reserves, and shows their proximity to Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) 3 supplying major cocoa traders and chocolate companies.  

Sam Mawutor, Senior Advisor, Ghana at Mighty Earth said:  

The cocoa beans' journey from farm to the first point of purchase is still the hardest to track and this is where beans from deforested areas can be mixed with those grown on legally cultivated land. The grim reality is that 30 – 40% of cocoa is still untraceable. Some chocolate companies are sitting on that information. Our map can be used to raise deforestation alerts and to hold big business accountable for bad practices. Locally we’re promoting the use of agroforestry approaches, which give value to standing trees and help diversify farmer livelihoods.” 

Training session with local farmers in Accra Tuesday 6 December 

Mighty Earth is training local cocoa farmer cooperatives and Ghana CSO Cocoa Platform members to use the map collaboratively to gain further insight into traceability at local level, beyond the LBC locations published by corporations.4   

Evelyn Aziamati, a cocoa farmer from Adjoobo Okrase in Ghana’s Eastern Region, said:  

“Protecting our livelihoods means addressing deforestation and being aware of what is happening in our local area. Tracking where the threats are can help us to raise the alarm before one hectare of deforestation becomes ten. Keeping our farms going and being able to provide for our families, means growing cocoa sustainably and using standing forests to support our work.”