After the disastrous Hurricane Mitch of 1998, many cocoa producers switched to cattle farming and subsequently cleared valuable forest areas leading to a dramatic decline of the habitats inhabited by parrots, tapirs and jaguars. Large-scale deforestation also exacerbated the effects of climate change. Honduras is one of the countries most severely affected by climate change. Extreme weather phenomena are continuously increasing and with them crop losses which are leading to food shortages.
A large proportion of Hondurans live in poverty and the country is increasingly being used as a transit zone by international drug traffickers. It sadly has one of the highest murder rates in the world so many people believe their only hope for a better life lies in emigration to the USA which in itself is a dangerous undertaking.
With our commitment to sustainability, we want to give smallholder cocoa farmers the means to secure their livelihood while protecting the environment and climate. To achieve this, we rely on three pillars: Quality & Productivity, Agroforestry and Climate Compensation. Currently, around 1300 cocoa farmers benefit from the additional income created by our commitment. A further 700 are to be added by 2021.
Chocolats Halba Honduras helps cooperatives to improve the quality of their cocoa beans. We supply them with high-quality Trinitario cocoa seedlings. We train farmers intensively in the fermentation and drying of cocoa beans. We also provide the farmers with financial and individual support in the construction of professional post-fermentation infrastructure and during the certification of their beans.
Additional courses support the farmers to increase the productivity of their existing parcels. This leads to higher income for the farmers and reduces the risk of valuable rainforests being lost to cocoa cultivation.
A large portion of the world’s cocoa is grown in monocultures, but the assumption that more plants lead to higher yields is at fault. After a short period of time, the soil is degraded and poor in nutrients due to this method of cultivation which also exposes the cocoa to the blazing sun making it vulnerable to sicknesses and pests. We continuously train our farmers in the conversion of their plantations into sustainable agroforestry systems.
The farmers cultivate cocoa in combination with timber trees such as mahogany or cedar. They provide the cocoa with needed shade, nutrients and water. More and more farmers are being persuaded to cultivate further crops (e.g. banana, mango, manioc) in combination with cocoa. Balanced mixed cultivation protects the soil and strengthens the plants. The income of farmers is increased and diversified. Nature also benefits since the biodiversity on the plantations is increased leading the insects that are so vital for pollination to return. The huge timber trees prevent erosion and protect the climate.
In the east of the country, in a revolutionary approach, we combine agroforestry system cocoa cultivation methods with CO2 compensation initiatives. The operational emissions of our parent company Chocolats Halba are offset by our cocoa farmers planting trees in and around their cocoa plots. The trees not only store greenhouse gases, but also provide shade, nutrients and water for the cocoa.
The farmers enjoy higher cocoa yields, and additional income is created by planting and maintaining the trees intended for said CO2 compensation scheme. The reforestation is certified to the “gold standard”, the strictest standard for climate protection projects. Since 2011, 238,849 trees have been planted by us solely for reforestation purposes.