By Rhodaline Anane Mensah
The Managing Campaigner at EcoCare Ghana, Mr. Obed Owusu Addai has entreated Cocoa and chocolate companies to as a matter of urgency, protect the environment from deforestation or risk losing the cocoa they are depending on forever saying, the current situation is unsustainable.
Mr. Obed Owusu made this known at a press conference on a new data analysis by Mighty Earth with the support of EcoCare Ghana on how, Major Chocolate Companies Failed in Pledge to End Deforestation.
The comprehensive new study ‘Sweet Nothings’ shows cocoa still driving destruction of protected areas, chimpanzee and elephant habitat loss four years after industry pledge.
The report presented at the press conference by Managing Campaigner at EcoCare Ghana, Mr. Obed Owusu Addai revealed that, more than four years after the high-profile launch of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (GFI), Africa’s top producing nations continue to see huge areas of forest being destroyed to make room for cocoa production.
The report said, Chocolate companies like Nestle, Hershey’s Mondelez and Mars needed to stop making empty promises and start working together with governments in the CFI to establish an open and effective joint deforestation monitoring mechanism this year.
It was estimated in the that, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have lost 80% of their forested areas over the last few decades, in large part to make way for cocoa farms.
The Mighty Earth report according to Mr. Owusu, uncovered evidence of ongoing tropical forest clearance for cocoa including, deforestation in designated protected areas that provide vital habitats for endangered wildlife such as, chimpanzees and pygmy hippos.
The report findings are that, deforestation is still found throughout protected areas in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, with stallite data analysis and expansion continue to play a major role in the encroachment areas.
The report again indicaed that, Four and half years after the chocolate companies and governments expresses commitment in the CFI to a ban on establishing any new cocoa farms, overall levels of deforestation remain near record highs.
It was also reported that, within cocoa growing regions, Cote d’Ivoire lost 19,421 hectares of its forest since the CFI action plans were published in January 2019, whilst Ghana has lost an astonishing 39,497 hectares of forest with a staggering high rate of deforestation of 39%.
Among the key recommendations in the report are that; Chocolate companies, cocoa traders, and governments must pool information about cocoa supply chains, and couple with satellite data imagery to establish an open and transparent joint deforestation monitoring mechanism in 2022.
Also, the CFI should publicly report progress in reducing deforestation in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, with the aim of achieving zero new deforestation for cocoa within two years.
In addition, leading chocolate companies and cocoa traders should play an active role in the restoration of degraded forests and biodiversity in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Furthermore, the Government of Cote d’Ivoire should work to quickly confirm the boundaries of protected areas and stop any new deforestation by involving, in a transplant manner, communities and civil society organizations in their monitoring.
The Government’s Forestry Commission, together with Ghana Cocoa Board Mighty Earth report recommended, should ensure that the emerging Cocoa Management System (CMS), which is intended to trace the cocoa supply chain, is designed in a transparent manner, so that stakeholders would have trust and confidence in the data that it would produce.
It was also recommended that, Authorities in the European Union, Japan, and the United States should introduce legislation that requires companies to conduct thorough due diligence checks to prevent cocoa or cocoa-derived products linked to deforestation from being imported into their consumer markets.
Mighty Earth is a global advocacy organization workin