Meet the Man Behind Your Rainforest Alliance Certified Chocolate
As the choco-centric holiday of Halloween approaches, it’s a great time to remember that there are people behind all of those candies, and if we choose a ‘fair’ chocolate, we’re supporting better stewardship of forests and waterways, as well as helping to benefit the smallholders who spend their lives growing cacao so that we can enjoy a taste of our favorite sweet treats.
Chocolate is a huge global industry, estimated at about $50 billion per year, and the effects of growing conventional cacao beans (the source of cocoa) can be devastating to the environment and to the people who grow them. But thanks to the work of the Rainforest Alliance, there is another way, which includes using environmentally and socially responsible farming practices and bringing sustainably sourced cocoa to market.
Meet Adrien Koffi Kouadio, one of the people behind sustainable cocoa cultivation:
“Like coffee, cocoa can be cultivated under the shade of native canopy trees within a landscape similar to a natural forest. However, it is becoming increasingly common for farmers to cut forest in order to grow cocoa more intensively or use hybrids requiring full-sun exposure. This practice eliminates crucial wildlife habitat, and many hybrid plants require regular agrochemical use that can threaten workers’ health and result in chemical run-off in soil, streams and waterways.
Rainforest Alliance Certified farms protect shade trees, plant native species, maintain wildlife corridors and conserve their natural surroundings. They reduce their reliance on pesticides in favor of biological and natural alternatives, and they are prohibited from using banned pesticides. Through Rainforest Alliance training, farmers also learn how to adapt to the effects of climate change.” – Rainforest Alliance
Through the Rainforest Alliance Certified Cocoa program, smallholder cocoa farmers are able to increase their productivity while conserving natural resources, as well as secure decent living and working conditions with their livelihood. The Rainforest Alliance trains these smallholders to boost not just their efficiency, but also the resilience of the land, and provides annual environmental, social, and economic audits to ensure optimal conditions for farmers and forest alike.
With most of the world’s cocoa being grown by smallholders, the advantages of supporting resilient cocoa farms and providing training and resources to them can help to change the cycle from one of poverty and deforestation to one of sustainability and increased income.