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Initiative announced to boost sustainability in Brazil’s cocoa sector

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Leading members of Brazil’s chocolate and cocoa sector have launched “CocoaAction Brasil”, an initiative to coordinate major cocoa and chocolate companies in Brazil, federal and state governmental bodies, sector associations, certification systems, other stakeholders to address a range of sustainability issues in the country’s cocoa sector.

The announcement was made in São Paulo at a conference of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) that has attracted more than 300 cocoa sustainability experts and practitioners from around the world.

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According to Pedro Ronca, who made the announcement and manages the initiative on behalf of WCF, “CocoaAction Brasil is a pioneering model for cocoa sustainability that helps private sector companies work together across the supply chain, speak with a unified voice with national and local governments, and learn together through a consolidated monitoring and evaluation system.”

Ronca, who works for the Brazilian agribusiness consulting firm P&A Marketing, stated that CocoaAction Brasil will work to find solutions that increase productivity; improve the quality of Brazil’s cocoa, including controlling pests and diseases; improve farmers’ living and working conditions; strengthen farmers’ organizations; and support sustainable forest-positive cocoa production systems.

WCF President Rick Scobey said, “CocoaAction Brasil is committed to develop a true public-private partnership platform with the Brazilian government and has formed a National Committee to guide important decisions of cocoa sustainability in Brazil.”

According to Scobey, current opportunities in Brazilian cocoa include the country’s status as a leader in the areas of reforestation and biodiversity preservation by cocoa through the country’s agroforestry and cabruca production models.  Recent developments in the sector in Pará also hold promise for modeling much higher farm-level productivity. Challenges noted by Scobey were a domestic supply gap that means Brazil must import approximately 70,000 tons of cocoa annually; low productivity on smallholder farms that ranges from 200-500 kilograms per hectare; too few farmer organizations and low farm incomes; and pest and disease threats, in particular the devastating Frosty Pod Rot (Moniliophthora roreri).

To date, leading multinational chocolate and cocoa industry members that have joined

the initiative include Barry Callebaut, Cargill, Mars, Mondelēz International, Nestlé and Olam, as well as the Brazilian chocolate maker Dengo. WCF initiated efforts that led to the creation of CocoaAction Brasil and facilitates company implementation and measurement of the strategy, identifies opportunities to lend expertise in policy discussions expertise in policy discussions, fills resource gaps, and generates new insights and learnings to amplify CocoaAction’s impact.

Nira Desai, who is WCF’s lead for CocoaAction Brasil, noted that the initiative’s government and third-party partners include Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply – MAPA); Ministério do Meio Ambiente (Ministry of the Environment – MMA); Ministério da Indústria, Comércio Exterior e Serviços (Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services – MDIC); Ministério da Integração Nacional (Ministry of National Integration – MI); the Secretariats of Agriculture from the Brazilian states of Bahia, Pará, Amazonas, Espírito Santo, Mato Grosso, and Rondonia; MAPA’s Sectorial Cocoa Chamber; CNA (National Association of Growers); ABICAB (Brazilian Chocolate, Peanuts, Candies and Byproducts Industry Association); AIPC (Cocoa Processing Industries Association); and others.

Desai said that CocoaAction Brasil is also drawing on the expertise of cocoa sector partners through a Technical Committee that includes Ceplac; Embrapa; Cocoa Innovation Center; agricultural extension agencies such as Emater-RO, Incaper, Emater-PA, Bahiater, and Empaer-MT; UTZ/Rainforest Alliance; AIPC; ABICAB; SENAR (National Rural Learning Service); and Brazilian representatives of the initiative’s chocolate and cocoa industry members.

CocoaAction Brasil benefits further from lessons learned through the ongoing implementation by WCF and leading industry members of a similar initiative also known as CocoaAction that has been tailored to address needs in the West African nations of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which are the world’s top two producers of cocoa.

About the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF)

WCF is a non-profit international membership organization whose vision is a sustainable and thriving cocoa sector – where farmers prosper, cocoa-growing communities are empowered, human rights are respected, and the environment is conserved. For more information, visit www.worldcocoa.org