The Ivory Coast will launch a pilot program in April aimed at tackling issues such as deforestation and child labour, the country’s cocoa official has said.
Chocolate’s main ingredient, cocoa beans, will now be able to be tracked from their origin to their production conditions thanks to the new system.
The project will also introduce a new payment system for farmers in order to ensure a fair wage for them.
The move follows the European Union’s plan to ban imports of commodities and products that are linked to deforestation and human rights abuses.
The objectives of our traceability system are to ensure the origins and complete circuit of beans, avoid deforestation, and pay the guaranteed price to farmers,” said Yves Brahima Kone, head of the Cocoa and Coffee Council (CCC).
Exporters currently use a variety of traceability systems that do not work together and cannot be used to accurately determine the route of Ivorian beans from the point of production to the point of consumption.
Cocoa producers in the world’s top country, which accounts for 40% of global output, have been criticized for using thousands of child labourers and destroying large areas of forests and national parks for growing cocoa.
According to Kone, the CCC had been developing software to trace cocoa beans from farms to storage centres and then to ports, but the missing link had been from farms to storage centres.
“Now that we have a reliable database on all farmers, the geographic location, dimensions and GPS coordinates of their farms, we can trace the origin of beans from the plantations to close the loop,” Kone said.
In partnership with Visa, the new system will enable farmers to receive a guaranteed farmgate price following the integration of an electronic payment system. It is backed by chocolate makers, environmental groups, and non-governmental organizations.
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