Global Demand for Chocolate and Coffee is Hurting Africa's Forests
The next time you bite into a chocolate bar... Think of Africa. Although the continent produces nearly 70% of the world's cocoa, it barely accounts for 3% of global consumption. According to a new Stanford study, a growing demand for chocolate and coffee has led to severe deforestation in Africa. In fact every year, Africa loses 4 million hectares of forest land in order to satisfy the world's craving for caffeine and chocolate. Much of this farmland comes from chopping down tropical forests and planting commodity crops for export. It’s hard to imagine but in the 1980’s, about 80% of the rain forest in Ivory Coast was cut to make room for cocoa plantations.
What would Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory say... Candy is dandy, but chocolate is the bomb, let's move to the Congo Basin. Tropical forests along the Congo Basin (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon) are most vulnerable to deforestation. Why? Because this region offers lots of land, few regulations and cheap labour. A dream come true for international companies looking to set up shop and invest in industrial plantations.
The bottom line... Multinational companies are increasingly looking to Africa to expand production of cash crops. That's why last month, twelve of the world’s largest chocolate makers - including Mars, Hersheys, Ferrero and Nestle- joined forces to tackle deforestation in Ivory Coast and Ghana (where 60% of the world's cocoa comes from). The goal of this initiative is to encourage sustainable farming practices and take a stand against deforestation. Sweet!
Sources: QUARTZ | STANFORD UNIVERSITY | DW | CONFECTIONERY NEWS | CNN