Alleviating the environmental impact of cocoa production will require companies to rethink the way they do business and significantly increase their financial support of more sustainable agricultural practices.
Otherwise, we may end up chopping down rainforest after rainforest to make way for new cocoa plantations – in an industry which has the potential to do zero environmental harm if managed correctly.
The Environmental Impact of Cocoa Production
Soil erosion is a naturally occurring process that affects all landforms. When the soil erodes, the land becomes less fertile and cocoa yields decrease.
Excessive soil erosion can occur when nutrients begin to leach out of the soil due to inadequate soil protection and excessive irrigation, which is often the case in cocoa farming.
Increased fertilizer use
With soil erosion and a decrease in soil fertility comes increased fertilizer use, or even fertilizer misuse.
This encourages further soil-erosion, creating a vicious cycle and pushing the boundaries of the ecosystem further and further.
Decreasing cocoa yields demands that new plantations be created to sustain production.
This leads to deforestation, which comes with its own set of problems: decreased biodiversity, destruction of wildlife habitats, and further soil erosion.
The Current State of Cocoa Production
Cocoa production and deforestation have always gone hand in hand, but it can no longer continue to do so.
More than 90% of West Africa’s rainforests are gone due to deforestation.
And, in Côte d’Ivôire, the area covered by rainforest has decreased from 16 million hectares to only 2 million in the span of the last 50 years.
The world market for cocoa saw a steep price decline between September 2016 and February 2017, which lowered the incomes of cocoa farmers by as much as 30-40%.
Currently, profit trumps sustainability. While the prices are on the rise again, experts say this volatility of income is likely to lead to more negative environmental impacts in the future.
Rethinking Sustainable Cocoa Production
To avoid further deforestation and keep up with global demand for cocoa, strict adherence to good agricultural practices (GAP) is going to be essential.
However, the GAP training that can be provided by governmental organizations is not going to be enough to accomplish that.
The key to alleviating the environmental impact of cocoa production is changing the way we think about the way cocoa companies do business.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can no longer be just an afterthought for companies in this business; it has to be a priority.
To reverse the negative effects of cocoa production, businesses are going to need to incorporate CSR efforts in their supply chains and create long-lasting programs that encourage GAP everywhere.
How NativeEnergy Can Help
Companies who support sustainability efforts within their own supply chain have the potential to change the way cocoa production affects our environment.
How? By providing financial sustainability to projects that create long-lasting impacts in the communities they serve.
NativeEnergy pairs businesses with unique HelpBuildTM projects that match their company goals and values, and help build a better planet, and a better future, for us all.
Contact NativeEnergy to get started.