Mondelez Expands Cocoa Life Program Into Brazil

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Sao Paulo, Brazil — Mondelez International is expanding its global cocoa sustainability initiative, Cocoa Life, in Brazil. The program, according to the company, aims to develop empowered and thriving cocoa farming communities by helping farmers become more profitable and sustainable while safeguarding the future of chocolate. Around the world, the initiative is making progress in five key cocoa origin countries: Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, India and Dominican Republic, the company reports.

Mondelez has supported cocoa production in Brazil since 2014 and will build on this work, and on the learnings from other origins, to fully deploy the Cocoa Life program, the company said in a statement. In Pará, the company will invest around $200,000 per year during the next three years to empower cocoa farmers and to nurture thriving and independent cocoa communities. In Bahia, where farmers face a myriad of challenges related to crop management, Cocoa Life will provide guidance on the latest techniques in farm rejuvenation and good agricultural practices to improve yields and the quality of the cocoa produced as well as to mitigate environmental impact. The cocoa beans produced with Cocoa Life support will be part of Mondelez’s  supply chain network for its Lacta chocolate portfolio.

“We are thrilled about adding Brazil to our Cocoa Life initiative. Brazil is not only a cocoa-growing country but it’s also an important chocolate manufacturing hub, home to one of our local heritage brands, Lacta, one of the country’s favorites and top-selling chocolate brand,” says Christine Montenegro McGrath, chief of sustainability & well-being. “Cocoa Life has already made a significant impact in West African cocoa farming communities and we expect it will do the same in Brazil. In addition, the program will look at contributing to the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and to the community development.”

The program’s launch in Brazil is the result of a collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and its “Forest Cocoa” project, which was created to foster low-carbon family-based farming, generate social and economic benefits and engage farmers to commit to zero deforestation targets and an agroforestry-based restoration of degraded areas.

“The partnership with Cocoa Life brings a new perspective to expand our efforts. Indeed, the Pará region, which had one of the highest rates of deforestation in Brazil, has the potential to become an example of sustainable development and restoration in the Amazon Rainforest,” says Rodrigo Freire, vice-coordinator of restoration for TNC in Brazil. “Over the past five years, we have supported the planting of 450 hectares of cocoa agroforestry-system in the Amazon, benefitting over 120 families in the São Félix do Xingu and Tucumã municipalities in southeastern Pará. Our goal is to reach 1,000 families in the next five years.”

In partnership with Forest Cocoa, Mondelez has set clear targets for the next three years, including:

  • Impact at least 500 farmers;
  • Deploy six demonstration plots to share good agricultural practices, promote ecological soil management and good post-harvest practices;
  • Transform 1,000 hectares of pasture land into cocoa agroforestry;
  • Re-shape 750 hectares of existing cocoa farms with new agro-ecological soil management;
  • Restore 500 hectares of riparian forest and protect watersheds.

To support the community as a whole, the company’s foundation will expand its “Health in Action” (“Ação Saudável”) program to Cocoa Life communities in the Pará state. INMED Partnerships for Children (Parcerias para Crianças) will facilitate the program, which promotes healthy nutrition and active play to kids in public schools. The program will also engage the local government in the promotion of well-being and benefit around 6,000 children and another 18,000 people indirectly — parents, teachers and the community in general. C&ST