From forests to farms: Cargill tracks commitment to protect the planet

Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate believes that eliminating deforestation in the cocoa supply chain is imperative; not only to protect our planet’s natural resources, but also to safeguard the income potential of smallholder cocoa farmers and ensure a sustainable supply of cocoa for generations to come. This ambition is a core part of the Cargill Cocoa Promise. 

Traceability is fundamental to these efforts – and mapping the supply chain is the foundation for traceability. Cargill has already polygon mapped more than 90,000 farms and risk assessed over 2.3 million hectares across the five origin countries where they source cocoa directly. The end goal is to map their total cocoa supply chain. Mapping matters because it allows Cargill to gather detailed information about each farm’s location and perimeter, which is used to identify at-risk areas. This is in turn informs sourcing plans and the targeted Cargill Cocoa Promise activities implemented on the ground.

Once Cargill maps the supply chain as a whole, it uses other technologies to identify the provenance of individual cocoa beans. For instance, in Ghana an electronic tracking system established in 2016 assigns every bag of beans a unique bar code, meaning Cargill can trace each bag to one of 16,000 Ghanaian cocoa farmers registered with the scheme. In addition, once the beans have been delivered, weighed and tagged, farmers are immediately paid via e-money, which increases transparency within the supply chain.

In Cote d’Ivoire, Cargill is currently providing 47 farming cooperatives with a digital management tool that centralizes inventory information, payment flows and financial operations. This allows the cooperatives to physically track the cocoa beans they manage back to individual farms, makes data-driven business decisions, and prevent beans from deforested areas entering into the supply chain. In this way, farmer cooperatives act as first responders in monitoring and mitigating any risk of sourcing from protected areas.

The governments of both Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are signatories to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI), which includes a commitment to no further conversion of any forest land for cocoa production. As a fellow signatory, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate is delivering on this commitment by applying both high-level (polygon mapping) and grassroots (bean tracking) traceability technologies. This combination of innovative tools, tailored to suit local contexts, ensures Cargill has the knowledge needed to eliminate deforestation from their direct cocoa supply chain. Because when it comes to protecting our planet, information is power.