Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Chocolate Industry Dirty Chocolate Secret

Dirty chocolate is killing African tropical forests, choose your chocolate candy wisely. 

The chocolate the world loves to eat, has a big secret. As global demand for chocolate explodes, despite efforts to slow tropical deforestation, the equivalent of 40 football fields of trees was lost every minute in 2017. 

Tropical forests are home to half the Earth's species, and their trees are an immense standing reservoir of carbon. Tropical forest trees, like all green plants, take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis. 

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which are the dried and fermented seeds of the cocoa tree. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate bars, has driven deforestation in West Africa.

Chocolate industry dirty chocolate secret in Africa

Cocoa, the main ingredient in our chocolate bars
How chocolate is killing African tropical forests and who cares

Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Democratic Republic of Congo are big victims of deforestation. 

Fires, droughts, and tropical storms are also playing an increasing role in forest loss, especially as climate change makes them more frequent and severe, according to the UN report. The regions that lost the most forest in 2017 were in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Central Africa. 

Brazil is still by far the deforestation leader with 11.1 million acres or 4.5 million hectares lost in 2017, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with 3.7 million acres or 1.5 million hectares. 

Over 2 million farmers in a belt that stretches from Sierra Leone to Cameroon produce Cocoa, but Côte d’Ivoire, the former Ivory Coast, and Ghana are the giants, the world’s first and second biggest producers. 

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are also big victims of deforestation behind the Democratic Republic of Congo. Deforestation is a significant issue in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Democratic Republic of Congo Deforestation.

The DRC has the second-largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon, and it is one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. 

However, the country has experienced a significant loss of forest cover in recent years, primarily due to deforestation by commercial logging, slash-and-burn agriculture, and mining activities. The DRC's forests are crucial for mitigating climate change, regulating water cycles, protecting biodiversity, and supporting the livelihoods of millions of people not to mention produce the seeds to make chocolate.. 

Deforestation in DRC can lead to soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and a reduction in the availability of clean water. It can also exacerbate climate change by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

Efforts are being made to address deforestation in the DRC, such as the creation of protected areas and the promotion of sustainable forestry practices. However, illegal logging and other forms of forest destruction remain significant challenges.

Cocoa pod at a cocoa farm in DRC

The main driver of deforestation in Côte d'Ivoire is the expansion of cocoa plantations. 

Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has experienced significant deforestation in recent decades. The country's tropical rainforests have been shrinking due to a combination of factors, including agricultural expansion, logging, and mining activities.

Cocoa is one of the country's major exports, and demand for it has led to the conversion of large areas of forest into agricultural land. 

Smallholder farmers, who make up the majority of the country's cocoa producers, often use slash-and-burn techniques to clear the land, which can lead to soil degradation and loss of biodiversity.

Deforestation in Côte d'Ivoire has had significant environmental and social impacts. The loss of forest cover has contributed to soil erosion, water pollution, and a decline in biodiversity. It has also led to the displacement of indigenous communities and the loss of their traditional livelihoods.

Efforts are being made to address deforestation in Côte d'Ivoire. The government has implemented policies to promote sustainable cocoa production, including the establishment of protected areas and the enforcement of regulations on land use. 

Private sector initiatives are also working to promote sustainable cocoa production and reduce the environmental impact of the industry. However, deforestation remains a significant challenge in the country.

Côte d’Ivoire is losing its forests at a faster rate than any other African country with less than 4% of the country is covered in rainforest. With 70 percent of the world’s cocoa produced by Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, chances are your chocolate candy snack started out as a seedpod growing on a cocoa farm in West Africa.
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dirty chocolate cocoa beans.

Dirty chocolate cocoa beans are grown when shady cocoa traders purchase beans that are illegally grown inside protected areas in Africa and, in turn, sell them to big-name candy companies. 

Dirty chocolate is a term used to describe cocoa beans that are produced through environmentally and socially harmful practices, such as deforestation, child labor, and exploitation of farmers. 

It is a term used to highlight the negative impact that the production of chocolate can have on the environment and the people involved in its production.

Cocoa beans are the raw ingredient used to make chocolate, and the production of cocoa can have significant environmental and social impacts. Cocoa is typically grown in tropical regions, often in areas that were once covered by rainforests. 

The expansion of cocoa plantations can lead to deforestation, which contributes to climate change and the loss of biodiversity. In addition, the production of cocoa has been linked to child labor and poor working conditions for farmers.

Efforts are being made by various organizations to promote sustainable and ethical cocoa production. Certification schemes, such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance, aim to ensure that cocoa is produced in a way that is environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. Consumers can also choose to purchase chocolate made from cocoa beans that have been produced through sustainable and ethical practices.

Large candy companies have come up with strategic priorities include passage of the new Forest Code, the creation of a National Forest Preservation and Rehabilitation Fund, development and implementation of the national cocoa traceability system, and implementation of pilot projects.

While destroying forests releases huge volumes of carbon dioxide, growing forests capture it from the atmosphere, making forest protection one of the keys to limiting climate change. Moreover, since tropical forests grow year-round, they are especially important. 

For forest protection, the initial company plans include specific measures for achieving 100% traceability in their direct supply chains, mapping the GPS location of 1 million farms, and conducting deforestation risk assessments near protected areas. 

In addition, the companies will distribute and plant 12.6 million native trees for forest restoration and cocoa agroforestry, develop 400,000 hectares of cocoa agroforestry, and sign contracts for payments for environmental services with 215,000 farmers. 

Cocoa pods growing on a cocoa tree at a cocoa farm
Cocoa pods growing on a cocoa tree

Cocoa-growing countries in Africa.

Africa is the world's leading producer of cocoa, with the majority of cocoa production taking place in West Africa. The main cocoa-growing countries in Africa include:

Cote d'Ivoire is the world's largest producer of cocoa, producing around 40% of the world's cocoa. Cocoa is a major source of income for the country, and the industry employs millions of people.

Ghana is the second-largest producer of cocoa in the world, with around 20% of global production. Cocoa is the country's second-largest export after gold, and the industry plays a significant role in the country's economy.

Cameroon is a significant cocoa producer, with around 5% of global production. Cocoa is an important cash crop for many smallholder farmers in the country, and the industry provides employment for millions of people.

Nigeria is a major cocoa producer, with around 5% of global production. The industry is an important source of income for many rural communities in the country.

Togo is a small cocoa producer, but the industry plays a significant role in the country's economy. Cocoa is the country's largest export, and the industry provides employment for many people.

The DRC has the second-largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon, and it is one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. The majority of cocoa production in the DRC takes place in the eastern regions of the country, including North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri.

Other African countries that produce cocoa include Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Madagascar.

Summary of the issue: The chocolate the world loves to eat, has a big secret causing African deforestation of tropical forests affected by big Chocolate companies using dirty chocolate cocoa beans grown illegally inside protected areas in Africa. African deforestation of tropical forests is caused in part by big chocolate companies. Deforestation drives climate change. Deforestation is the permanent destruction of forests; choose your chocolate candy wisely.

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