Get cocoa plantations out of Côte d’Ivoire’s national parks!

Photomontage: rainforest clearing and Mars logo Stop destroying West Africa’s rainforests for chocolate! (© Mighty Earth)

Côte d’Ivoire was once a tropical paradise, but now its last remaining patches of rainforest are being destroyed for cocoa plantations – not even national parks are safe. The major chocolate producers have turned a blind eye to the ruthless exploitation. Tell Mars and other manufacturers to get the rainforest out of our chocolate!

Call to action

To: The management of Mars, Mondelez and other confectionery manufacturers

The chocolate industry is driving deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire. Stop using cocoa from rainforest destruction.

Read letter

“The ancient forests of our nation, once a paradise for wildlife like chimpanzees, leopards, hippopotamus, and elephants, have been degraded and deforested to the point that they’re almost entirely gone. This deforestation is due principally to the cultivation of cocoa,” said Signo Kouamé Soulago Fernand, General Secretary ROSCIDET, a network of Ivorian NGOs specializing in environmental protection and sustainable development.

As the world’s largest producer, Côte d' Ivoire’s economy is completely dependent on cocoa exports. The industry takes a heavy environmental toll: cocoa is even grown in national parks – 40 percent of the harvest comes from illegal sources. Numerous protected areas have been all but cleared for plantations.

Small farmers often have no alternative but to plant cocoa bushes in the protected forests. In some cases, settlements with tens of thousands of inhabitants, churches, mosques, public schools and official health centers have sprung up around the illegal trade. Ivorian officials either turn a blind eye to the destruction or brutally evict farmers in arbitrary raids, in some cases torching whole villages without warning.

The cocoa passes through several levels of middlemen on its way to companies such as Cargill, Olam and Barry Callebaut – three corporations that account for half the world market in cocoa. “[The middlemen] openly admitted to us that they bought cocoa from inside national parks and protected forests,” writes NGO Mighty Earth in its report, “Chocolate’s Dark Secret”.

Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Hershey – all of the major manufacturers of chocolate products use cheap cocoa beans from Côte d’Ivoire, putting rainforest destruction in every bite. 

Please sign our petition and tell Big Chocolate to stop using cocoa grown in protected forests.

Back­ground

Chocolate generates $100 billion in annual sales worldwide. The market is growing by 3 percent per year.

Cocoa farmers, however, are earning less and less: Currently, they only receive around 6.6 percent of the price of a bar of chocolate, down from 16 percent in the 1980s. Many smallholders subsist on less than a dollar a day.

While West Africa – especially Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – is currently the center of cocoa production, the sector is expanding to Central Africa, Indonesia and Peru.

Letter

To: The management of Mars, Mondelez and other confectionery manufacturers

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You buy large quantities of cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire, where its cultivation has led to rampant deforestation. Up to 40 percent of Ivoirian cocoa is currently being grown illegally in protected areas and national parks, as documented by the NGO Mighty Earth in a detailed report, “Chocolate’s Dark Secret”.

According to the publication, middlemen in Côte d’Ivoire who supply Cargill, Olam and Barry Callebaut openly admit the illegal origins of their wares.

Consumers therefore have no choice but to assume that your company’s products contain cocoa from illegal sources.

I therefore call on you to:

– ensure that your cocoa is legally sourced

– pay for the environmental damage caused by cocoa cultivation and ensure that trees are planted in all existing plantations, following a comprehensive agroforestry system with shade plants

– support the inhabitants of Côte d’Ivoire’s protected areas in developing alternative and environmentally friendly sources of income

– pay cocoa producers fair prices.

Please ensure that we can enjoy chocolate that is not tainted by exploitation and rainforest destruction.

Sincerely,

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