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A Sustainable Future for Chocolate

A Sustainable Future for Chocolate

A Sustainable Future for Chocolate

Transcript

Poppy:

Good morning. I’m your host Poppy, and you’re listening to The Poppy Podcast. We are pleased to have Jack Sullivan with us today. He’s an environmentalist who’s been working with cacao farmers in West Africa. Tell us why you’re there, Jack.  

Jack:

Well, there have been lots of scary predictions that chocolate is going to disappear off the face of the Earth in 30 years. I’ve been helping local cacao farmers and chocolate companies to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

Poppy:

What do you tell them? 

Jack:

That cutting down the rainforest to make way for cacao farms is not the answer. Cacao trees are small and need shade. They can be planted in the rainforest. 

Poppy:

I understand that farmers who grow only cacao are taking a risk.

Jack:

Yes. I teach farmers to practice biodiversity. They need to plant something else between their rows of cacao trees.

Poppy:

What’s good to plant?

Jack:

Banana and cassava trees work well. The additional crop keeps weeds down, so cacao farmers are more likely to stop using pesticides and use organic compost instead of chemical fertilizers. Those chemicals end up polluting the land as well as the freshwater supply.  

Poppy:

Should cacao farms be organic?

Jack:

Oh yes! We teach organic farming methods. For example, instead of using fertilizer, we show farmers how to grind up the bean pods as mulch. The recycled pods are spread around the trees. This is a natural way to improve the fertility and health of the soil. It keeps weeds down, too.

Poppy:

What about that white sticky stuff around the beans? What happens to it?

Jack:

You mean the pulp? While some of it is necessary to ferment the beans, the unused pulp is often thrown out and wasted. I show farmers how this pulp can be sold for jams, sweets, and drinks.

Poppy:

What is your advice for the chocolate companies? 

Jack:

Well…They need to replant trees and bring back the rainforest. Did you know that Ivory Coast has lost 80% of its forests since 1960? And that chimpanzees are in great danger because this is their habitat? that chimpanzees are in great danger because this is their habitat?

Poppy:

But through all of this you still have hope?

Jack:

For sure. It is in the interest of chocolate companies to work hard to stop deforestation so that cacao has a sustainable future.