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Naturland calls for a new approach to cocoa farming on the occasion of World Chocolate Day, 7th July

Kakaobauer grossKakaobauer Samuel Guillen, EcuadorGräfelfing – On average, Germans polish off 116 bars of chocolate a year. Of these, only some two and a half bars are organic and fair trade. Most of the smallholders, who grow over 90% of the cocoa produced world-wide, live in dire poverty. Recent headlines such as “Sweet Chocolate Made From Bitter Beans” have been a rude awakening for the consumer and have resulted in ever more advertisements for chocolate displaying various conventional sustainability labels. The only real alternative, however, is organic farming in combination with fair trade.

“Cocoa farming can only be considered sustainable if the farming system is organic and the cocoa sold through fair trade channels, meaning that the farmers can earn a living from the few hectares of land they own. All other claims are just window dressing to deceive the consumer,” says Hans Hohenester, the president of Naturland on the occasion of World Chocolate Day on 7th July. A good 2,500 Naturland farmers the world over cultivate over 6,000 hectares of organic cocoa. Besides this, Naturland, in collaboration with GEPA – The Fair Trade Company, is providing advisory services to a further smallholders’ co-operative in Cameroon on conversion to organic agriculture.„

Naturland cocoa – a richly varied farming system which encourages productivity
One example of the successful combination of organic agriculture and fair trade is El Ceibo, a smallholder co-operative in Bolivia. It has been a Naturland partner for almost 30 years now. One thousand two hundred Naturland farmers are growing cocoa for export using a diversified, eco-friendly farming system with a rich variety of shade trees. These protect the cocoa from getting too much sun and the soil from erosion, and help to stabilise the water balance. The consistent addition of biomass has a positive effect on the soil structure and supplies the cocoa plant with nutrients. This semi-natural farming system provides a wide range of beneficial organisms with a habitat, thus contributing to pest control.
The shade trees, a mixture of citrus fruits, bananas, avocados, but also trees for firewood or building, are used by the farmers themselves or provide a source of additional income for their families when the fruit is sold on local markets. Reliable, long-term co-operation with fair trade partner organisations gives the smallholders planning security and a fair income from their export crop, cocoa. Today, El Ceibo is one of the largest and most successful cocoa organisations in Latin America.

Naturland Fair sets highest standard
Stiftung Warentest, a German consumer organisation, recently attested once again to a combination of organic and fair trade being the only really sustainable solution. The testers assessed six different sustainability labels and came to the clear conclusion that “the Naturland Fair label sets the highest standard”. Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Certified, which are the most prevalent on the shelves, were by contrast deemed by the testers as the labels with the “lowest requirements” and with “undemanding criteria”.


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