Disease Prevention Across a Cocoa Farm
In Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, cocoa is sourced through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan and certified by the Rainforest Alliance following the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard. In this process it is critical to support a strong certification approach regarding the control and minimization of pesticide use.
With rising pest outbreaks across cocoa trees, cocoa farmers are faced with several challenges. Some of these diseases include black pod fungus and pod borer. The absence of control has major environmental and economic losses in cocoa production and has the potential to reduce harvests by as much as 30%. Controlling these rapidly spreading diseases is critical to both farmers livelihoods and the cocoa farms themselves.
Firstly, it’s important to follow integrated pest management, as prescribed in the Rainforest Alliance standard. This means, to quote the standard: For pest prevention and control, producers use biological, physical, and other non-chemical control methods first, and document the use and the effectiveness of these methods.
On top, we have found that a thorough pruning, as we practice in the Nestlé income accelerator, reduces the prevalence of disease by increasing air circulation and making it easier to physically control the appearance of any diseases. See latest KIT Midline report of the pilot phase to have more details on the impact of pruning.
Only once integrated pest management is exhausted should pesticides be used.
The Rainforest Alliance standard (clause 4.6.1) prohibits the use of pesticides which are:
- On the Rainforest Alliance List of Prohibited Pesticides or List of Obsolete Pesticides
- Prohibited by applicable law
- Not legally registered in the country where the farm is located.
Proper pesticide management helps to protect the health and safety of farmers and their families, as well as consumers.
Farmers are trained annually by farmer trainers on integrated pest management and the safe use of chemicals in accordance with the Rainforest Alliance code.
This means farmers who handle pesticides are skilled in their preparation and their application, and professional spraying groups are favoured.
When applying pesticides, the Rainforest Alliance policy is clear (quoted from clause 4.5.3):
- “Applications are made only on the impacted plants and areas
- Active ingredients are rotated to avoid and reduce resistance
- Calendar spraying is avoided and only allowed when recommended by a competent technician or official national organization”
Further to this, according to the standard, the use of chemicals is carefully controlled and recorded, and empty containers are disposed of safely. Farmers use only agrochemicals sold by authorized vendors, in original and sealed packaging and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
On top of the standards policy, actual pesticide use is monitored by a survey led by Rainforest Alliance.
The Nestlé Cocoa Plan team in collaboration with our partners on the ground have implemented a series of key steps aiming at controlling emerging pest outbreaks on cocoa farms - all in accordance with the Rainforest Alliance standard.