Theo Chocolate and the Jane Goodall Institute Present: Cocoa Practices -- An Initiative for Change
As the first roaster of Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa beans, as well as the only roaster of organic cocoa beans in the United States, Theo Chocolate strives to lead the industry with the excellence and integrity of its products, while raising standards for both cocoa farmers and consumers.
As part of its commitment, Theo Chocolate has partnered with the Jane Goodall Institute to introduce Cocoa Practices—an environmental stewardship program that rewards cocoa producers and suppliers that demonstrate efforts to protect and conserve water and soil integrity, biological diversity and the overall ecosystem.
Founded by world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) is a global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things. JGI is focused on creating healthy ecosystems, promoting sustainable livelihoods and nurturing new generations of committed, active citizens all over the globe.
Why Do We Need Cocoa Practices?
Cocoa farming has the potential to impact rural areas formerly dominated by natural forests, particularly in the humid lowland tropics. These areas are often some of the earth’s most biologically diverse regions. If farmers choose to employ unsustainable methods, the entire ecosystem suffers. Unsustainable cocoa production processes can lead to environmental degradation, which endangers not only local wildlife, but farming communities as well.
What Exactly Are Cocoa Practices?
Exemplary cocoa production strives to manage resources—whether forest, terrestrial, aquatic or soil—in the most sustainable way. Where possible, these consummate production methods would lead to the restoration of native biodiversity and natural resources. Cocoa Practices environmental stewardship incorporates a detailed scoring system and built-in incentives for improvement, providing straightforward ways for local farmers to become the foundation of conservation efforts in agricultural regions. Key areas of stewardship include:
Cocoa must be cultivated, grown and harvested in a manner that avoids adverse impacts on water resources. This entails:
- Watercourse protection to control sedimentation and contamination and to provide habitat for native wildlife.
- Water quality protection to avoid degradation of surface or ground water quality.
Soil health and productivity must be maintained to assure sustainable cocoa production, as well as the continued viability of other biotic resources found on the farm. This entails:
- Controlling surface erosion to keep topsoil on site. Loss of topsoil can hasten the loss of productive capacity and introduce sedimentation and contaminants into nearby water bodies.
- Assuring long-term ecological and agricultural productivity by maintaining soil health.
To protect and enhance indigenous and natural biological diversity and the ecosystem, cocoa growing must minimize adverse impacts to natural vegetation and wildlife within and adjacent to cocoa production areas. This entails:
- Maintaining or restoring a canopy of diverse native tree species aimed at conserving native biodiversity in areas originally covered by forest.
- Managing farm operations to protect wildlife and provide conditions that support the habitat needs of native species, especially threatened or endangered species.
- Identifying and managing areas of high ecological value with a conservation emphasis. If a farm lacks areas of ecological value, farmers must work to restore natural habitat or conditions on a portion of their property.
- Conserving and protecting native, primary forests and any legally protected areas. As of May 21, 2007, native, primary forests or legally protected areas cannot be cleared for agricultural production.
Environmental leadership is best guided by a sufficient information base, effective planning and monitoring, particularly with respect to use of agrochemicals and integrated pest management.
- Developing a plan to assure that effective environmental management is carefully integrated throughout the farming process rather than on an ad hoc basis. Environmental management plans must be based on knowledge of the resource conditions at participating farms and surrounding areas.
- Creating an ecological pest and disease management plan and reducing agrochemical use. To develop agro-ecosystems capable of naturally maintaining pests and diseases at insignificant levels, farmers must monitor disease and pest damage and have access to a suite of affordable and accessible pest and disease control methods, organic fertilization methods and productive germplasm. Agrochemicals should only be used as last resorts and should be handled in the safest manner possible. Chemicals listed as Type 1A or 1B by the World Health Organization (WHO) are not allowed. Over time, strategies should be developed to reduce dependence on external agrochemical inputs.
How Will Cocoa Practices Be Implemented?
Led by Theo Chocolate’s founder and chief executive officer—Joseph Whinney—the Cocoa Practices initiative is bringing together growers, producers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the world’s diverse cocoa producing regions. In the fall of 2008, Theo Chocolate will initiate quality improvement programs with cocoa farmers in Tanzania, the country where Dr. Goodall began her groundbreaking chimpanzee research in the 1960s. If these programs are successful, Theo’s partnership with the local farmers will further enable them to develop their livelihoods in a more sustainable manner through the subsequent implementation of Cocoa Practices. Theo Chocolate and the Jane Goodall Institute are working together to ensure the farmers’ success. The Cocoa Practices program is not limited to growers who supply chocolate to Theo, but is available to any cocoa farmer. The ultimate goal is to incorporate Cocoa Practices into farming and production processes around the globe.
How Can Consumers Support This Initiative?
In November 2008, Theo Chocolate, in partnership with JGI, introduced two 3-ounce chocolate bars made from organic, Fair Trade Certified™ chocolate. These chocolate bars are available nationally at Whole Foods Market™ stores, as well as online at www.theochocolate.com and www.janegoodall.org. Proceeds from the sale of each bar will benefit JGI and its programs.
The chocolate bars also carry Jane Goodall’s “Good for All” seal, signifying that they promote better pay for farmers and help protect the environment and the planet’s wildlife. The seal reflects Dr. Goodall’s personal commitment to top-quality, ethically produced products from Africa and other parts of the world. The two bars are the first chocolates, and only the second product line, to carry the “Good for All” seal.
About Theo Chocolate
Theo Chocolate is the only true bean-to-bar maker of organic, Fair Trade Certified™ chocolate in the United States. Theo is uniquely positioned in the marketplace as the only independently owned, socially and environmentally responsible true chocolate maker. Theo controls and executes the entire manufacturing process, from bean sourcing through to the final molding process, demonstrating their innovation, passion for chocolate and mission to serve consumers and the environment every step of the way. In choosing Theo, people make a healthier choice for both their bodies and the planet. Theo Chocolate is a privately held company headquartered in Seattle’s Fremont District. Visitors are invited to attend a tour of the chocolate-making plant. For more information please visit www.theochocolate.com or call 206.632.5100.
About the Jane Goodall Institute
Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr. Goodall’s pioneering research of chimpanzee behavior—research that transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals. Today, the Institute is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. It also is widely recognized for establishing innovative community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and the Roots & Shoots global environmental and humanitarian youth program, which has groups in almost 100 countries. For more information, please visit www.janegoodall.org.