Cocoa companies extend partnership with environmental groups to restore forest in the Amazon

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Pará 's cocoa growing forest. Pic: Cacao Forest
Pará 's cocoa growing forest. Pic: Cacao Forest

Related tags deforestation

Olam food ingredients (ofi) and Mondelēz International increase efforts to help protect forests in Pará, an important cocoa-growing area in Brazil.

ofi and Mondelēz International, along with Partnerships for Forests (P4F) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), have announced they are scaling up efforts to halt deforestation and restore degraded land in the area, which will help to bring 48,000 hectares of land under sustainable management, covering 700 farmers, by 2023.

According to latest studies, deforestation rates in Pará are the highest of any Brazilian state, with more than 1.2 million hectares lost in the last five years alone, mainly as forest is cleared to make way for cattle farming.

Cocoa agroforestry

To combat the problem, the partners are promoting cocoa agroforestry – where cocoa is grown alongside native trees and fruits – as a more profitable alternative.

The large-scale project aims to restore lost tree cover and help farmers to diversify and grow their livelihoods. It is also intended to encourage other industry players to replicate the model and help accelerate progress towards protecting this vital landscape.

The project is an expansion of a successful first phase that recently won Nature-Based Project of the Year at the Business Green Leaders Awards 2021. More than 250 farmers have already signed a zero-deforestation agreement; 16,000 hectares of land have been brought under sustainable management; and 1.6 million Brazilian reais of subsidised credit have been unlocked for implementation and management of agroforestry.

M Sathyamurthy, President of ofi's cocoa business in Latam & Americas, said: "As a leading supplier of cocoa beans and cocoa ingredients, if we are to create a sustainable future for cocoa farmers and our planet, we must not only put an end to deforestation in the Amazon, we have to help reverse it.

“Together with our partners, we are demonstrating how proven agroforestry techniques can restore precious forest and generate economic opportunities for farmers, supporting them to be agents of positive change.

“The project is also an example of how the most granular level of Olam's sustainability insights platform, AtSource Infinity, can deliver transformational impact at scale for communities as well as landscapes, by promoting education and giving female farmers the training and tools, they need to diversify their incomes."

In partnership with Mondelēz International, ofi said it will continue to collect data on the project and measure its impact through the Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS). The app collects detailed productivity and socio-environmental data on each farmer participating in the project and delivers tailored advice to help them improve productivity and biodiversity. The data will also be made available to ofi's customers through AtSource. 

Barbara Ferreira, Senior Project Officer at Partnerships for Forests, said: "The pilot phase addressed the main challenges faced by farmers in an integrated manner by increasing access to the value-chain actors, helping to unlock credit and promoting rural technical assistance. This is all thanks to a multidisciplinary partnership established between investors, industry and other partners to align strategy, define priorities and find solutions together. The second phase aims to provide scale and sustain positive outcomes for the long term with an increased focus on the role of women in agroforestry, training rural technicians and equipping young people to provide specialised labour services​."

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