Agroforestry is a cornerstone of Barry Callebaut’s Forever Chocolate strategy, Nestlé’s Net Zero ambition, and the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, and its joint efforts to protect biodiversity and support the livelihoods of cocoa farmers. An agroforestry insetting approach also allows for the removal of carbon within its and its customers' supply chains.

Partnering with Nestlé on large-scale agroforestry project

The long-term agreement between Barry Callebaut and Nestlé will roll out 11,500 hectares of agroforestry, including payments for ecosystem services (PES) to more than 6,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. The implementation of the agroforestry project is underway, with three cooperatives in the South-Western parts of Côte d’Ivoire already engaged in the project, scaling to ten cooperatives and reaching full scale after five years of planting.

The project is fully aligned with the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, which aims to make Nestlé’s cocoa supply chain more sustainable, Nestlé’s overarching Net Zero Roadmap, and commitment to regenerative agriculture. This joint partnership supports Nestlé’s and Barry Callebaut’s climate-smart cocoa ambitions, by aiming to remove up to 1.3 million tons of CO2e over 25 years. This project also aligns with the Science-based Target initiative (SBTi), as well SustainCert verification and the Gold Standard Foundation

"As part of Nestlé’s Net Zero roadmap, we are committed to reducing our business' climate impact all the way to the farms we source from. A trusted partner like Barry Callebaut is essential to achieving success. Over 21,000 football fields are covered by our joint agroforestry project to support farmers who are part of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan," says Darrell High, cocoa manager at Nestlé.

Agroforestry benefits farmers, companies, and the planet

Through Barry Callebaut's agroforestry efforts, it aims to mitigate the impact of climate change and restore natural biodiversity while helping cocoa farmers to prosper and increase their long-term productivity. Agroforestry helps farmers to develop cocoa farms that are more resilient to drought and diseases, have better soil quality, produce better and higher yields, and provide them with additional sources of income. Cocoa grown under shade trees is also linked to increased biodiversity, carbon removals, and nutrient retention in the soil. In collaboration with local experts and following the latest scientific findings, the company determines the best mix of primarily native species to promote cocoa and soil regeneration and attract pollinators, while providing extra income for farmers and removing carbon.

Through payments for ecosystem services (PES), farmers get paid for the survival of the planted trees as a reward for carbon removal.

"As part of our Forever Chocolate plan, we invest into carbon removal activities jointly with our farmers and customers. This pioneering partnership with Nestlé, a company strongly committed to climate action, shows that agroforestry can deliver significant positive impact where it matters most: in the shared value chain. The collaboration allows us to support the planting of trees on cocoa farms, while restoring the ecosystems, removing carbon from the atmosphere, diversifying farmers' income, and ultimately increasing farm climate resilience," says Tilmann Silber, global forest and carbon program lead, Barry Callebaut.

In-house expertise and feet on the ground

Barry Callebaut has developed strong sustainability know-how and capabilities. In addition, with over 1,600 colleagues in cocoa-origin countries, it has a pool of expertise, providing in-house capacity to implement and scale its impact on the ground. This combination of expertise and cocoa-origin presence are key enablers of its robust program implementation and impact-driven solutions, and is a point of differentiation for its customers.

Paying farmers for ecosystem services

The company's intensified agroforestry approach, launched in 2022 in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, puts the focus on long-term success through training, extended monitoring and payments for ecosystem services (PES). PES means that farmers get paid on a yearly basis for the survival of the planted trees as a reward for carbon removal. Next to the additional money from the PES, the fruit trees planted among the cocoa allow the farmers to further diversify their income.

From seedlings to land tenure interventions and market linkage

Barry Callebaut's agroforestry approach is a farmer-centric, agile, long-term program building on trust and loyalty. In the first year, farmers get sensitized on agroforestry, receive farm diagnostics, support with the planting design, seedling kits, and technical training. The following year, replacement seedlings are distributed if needed, and technical coaching continues with a focus on pruning assistance. The first payment for ecosystem services according to their seedlings’ performance, also takes place. These activities continue in the following years and are accompanied by land tenure interventions. Land rights are essential to ensure a living income for farmers and sustainable cocoa production. Having formal rights to the land allows farmers to safely invest in their land in order to secure their livelihoods. Its approach also aims to support farmers in creating the market linkage for the fruits and other products they produce through agroforestry.

Fruit trees planted among the cocoa allow the farmers to further diversify their income, promote cocoa and soil regeneration and attract pollinators, while also removing significant amounts of carbon.

Scaling its agroforestry approach with partners across cocoa origins

Barry Callebaut aims to continue to scale up its agroforestry approach by partnering with customers to expand its activities in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire as well as across other cocoa origins. Such insetting projects will allow the company to remove carbon within its and its customers’ supply chains. But it is about much more than carbon removal: the projects tackle both environmental and social challenges. Its holistic approach creates value for the farmers, restores ecosystems, and makes supply chains more resilient.