Growing sustainable cocoa in the heart of the Amazon

Progress Blog
Growing sustainable cocoa in the heart of the Amazon

By Jens Hammer, Country Lead Brazil, Cocoa Life, Mondelēz International

We are expanding the Cocoa Life program to empower at least 500 cocoa farmers and 1000 families in the north region of Brazil, while promoting cocoa agroforestry as a productive way to restore land. As part of this expansion we have launched a new collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

The north region of Brazil has seen a booming cattle ranching culture, in the late 80’s. This had major effects on the land, as large parts of the Amazon forests were cut down and turned into pasture. Farmers in the region see the cocoa crop as a way to bring the land back to life, and protect the Amazon. Cocoa, and other species native to the Amazon ecosystem, will thus support livelihoods and help build productive forest lands.

In Pará, we are investing around $200,000 per year over the next three years. In Bahia state where the program has originally started in 2014 with scientific seed research, Cocoa Life will provide guidance regarding the latest techniques in farm rejuvenation and good agricultural practices. These will contribute to improving the yield and the quality of the cocoa produced. All cocoa beans produced with Cocoa Life support will be sourced for Mondelēz International's Lacta chocolate portfolio.

Group of smiling women

Valcilene dos Santos (center), with Cocoa Life Director Cathy Pieters, TNC and local officials

Man with plants

"We are thrilled about adding Brazil to our Cocoa Life initiative. Brazil is not only a cocoa-growing country but it’s also an important chocolate manufacturing hub, home to one of our local heritage brands, Lacta, one of the country´s favorites and top-selling chocolate brand. Cocoa Life has already made a significant impact in West African cocoa farming communities and we expect it will do the same in Brazil. In addition, the program will also look at contributing to the preservation of the Amazon rainforest and to the community development.""

Christine Montenegro McGrath, Chief of Sustainability & Well-being

We have set clear targets for the next three years:

  • Impact at least 500 farmers and 1,000 families;
  • Deploy six demonstration plots to share good agricultural practices, promote ecological soil management and good post-harvest practices;
  • Transform 1,000 hectares of pasture land into cocoa agroforestry;
  • Re-shape 750 hectares of existing cocoa farms with new agro-ecological soil management;
  • Restore 500 hectares of riverbank forest and protect watersheds.

By receiving new crop techniques through training, Valcilene dos Santos, a cocoa farmer in Pará, believes that the program will be more than a support to increase her income. It will empower her to do what she loves the most.

"Many people think that a woman must stay at home taking care of her children, but not me. A woman must be where she wants to, where she feels good, where she likes to work, and I love being here and be part of this story."

To further support the community as a whole, Mondelēz International Foundation is expanding its “Health in Action” (“Ação Saudável”) program to Cocoa Life communities in the Pará state. INMED Partnerships for Children will facilitate the program, which promotes healthy nutrition and active play to kids in public schools. The program will also engage the local government in the promotion of well-being and benefit around 6,000 children and another 18,000 people indirectly (parents, teachers and the community in general).

Good for the farmers, good for the communities, good for the forests and good for the business. This is how we will lead the future of snacking – making our snacks are made in the right way, delivering a positive impact for people and planet. Cocoa Life is bringing our future to life!