The BMEL’s Commitment for Sustainable Cocoa

For Germany, one of the biggest exporters of chocolate products worldwide, cocoa as an agricultural commodity is of great economic importance. Almost ten percent of the cocoa produced worldwide is processed in Germany alone. It is thus useful to maintain the share of sustainably produced cocoa in the value-adding chain and to safeguard its availability and quality in the long term. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture has joined forces with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to work toward this goal.

At the International Green Week 2019, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner and Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller presented a 10-Point Plan for Sustainable Cocoa.

This plan reinforces and defines the Federal Government’s efforts to achieve the long-term objective that all the cocoa in cocoa products sold in Germany should originate from sustainable production.

Federal Minister Klöckner: “With the 10-Point Plan, we are sending a strong signal and tackling the problems in cocoa farming. We are committed to forest protection and conservation and also want to strengthen the role of women in the cocoa sector. Our objective is to improve the living conditions of cocoa farmers and their families. For instance, we provide support for the “Pro Planteurs” project, which trains farmers – in particular female farmers – specifically in the production of sustainable cocoa, thus creating prospects on the ground – it is a pioneer project.”

More than 85 percent of the cocoa in Germany is produced in the Western African countries Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast. In the Ivory Coast, a farming family of seven generates an income of about 170 euros per month with coca farming. This is barely enough to cover the family’s vital needs. The result is poverty, hunger and also child labour. Even though it is illegal, more than two million children work on Western African cocoa plantations.

German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa

Germany leads the way with the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, which was jointly initiated by the BMEL and BMZ and chosen as the German Government’s 2016 lighthouse project for the National Sustainable Development Strategy. The German confectionery industry, the German food trade, civil society and the Federal Government are actively engaged in this initiative for sustainable cocoa farming.

Together, as a so-called multi stakeholder initiative, they are aiming at improving the living conditions of cocoa farmers and their families, as well as increasing the cultivation and marketing of sustainably produced cocoa. The members of the forum work in collaboration with the governments of the cocoa-producing countries to achieve this goal. Against this backdrop, in April 2018, Germany hosted the 4th World Cocoa Conference together with the International Cocoa Organization.

In the meantime, the members of the initiative could increase the share of sustainably produced cocoa in Germany to about 65 percent today. The objective is to reach a share of 85% by 2025.

However, this is still not enough – for this reason, the BMZ and BMEL have drawn up the 10-Point Plan to define common objectives for a sustainable cocoa sector. The objective is to achieve a fair income for the producers. This is the only way to effectively combat poverty and abusive child labour. In the long run, the aim is for 100 percent of the cocoa in Germany to be produced and traded under fair conditions.

10-Point Plan for Sustainable Cocoa

The Plan states:

  1. As a member of the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, we support a joint strategy of all German stakeholders for a more sustainable cocoa sector.
  2. We are in favour of an ambitious increase in the share of cocoa from certified or independently verified cultivation in Germany.
  3. We aim to establish binding regulations setting a uniform standard for sustainably produced cocoa.
  4. We will promote initiatives that increase the effectiveness of standard systems.
  5. We will inform consumers in Germany about the sustainable cultivation of cocoa.
  6. We are committed to cocoa farmers having prospects for living their lives free from poverty.
  7. We are committed to protecting and conserving forests in the cocoa sector.
  8. We will campaign to fight abusive child labour and to strengthen the role of women in cocoa cultivation.
  9. We will assist the governments of producer countries in their efforts to establish or further develop a sustainable cocoa sector.
  10. We will promote cross-sectoral dialogue and cooperation of transboundary initiatives in the cocoa sector

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