Bakery ingredients manufacturer Puratos has launched an agroforestry project with PUR Projet. 

The initiative is part of its in-house Cacao-Trace scheme, a sustainable cocoa sourcing programme supporting cocoa smallholder farmers. Puratos is aiming to ensure business operations are carbon neutral by 2025.

“Both Puratos and Cacao-Trace farmers benefit from the community-based approach to implement agroforestry models with cocoa parcels led by PUR Projet. The trees will capture CO2, helping Puratos to achieve its ambitious goal,” said Franck Cassé, environmental sustainability programme manager at Puratos.

“The cocoa farmer benefits in three main ways: the shade reduces disease outbreaks and increases biodiversity to enhance cacao pollination, leading to a stabilisation of yields; it creates extra sources of revenue by selling the fruits; and the trees fertilise the soil, reducing expenses on fertilisers.”

It will be implemented in five countries where Puratos sources cocoa: the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Ivory Coast, Vietnam and Mexico (where the Cacao-Trace programme launched last month).

Puratos will plant 300,000 trees a year until 2023, said the company. Planting is already underway in the Philippines and Vietnam. The aim is to create a business model resilient to climate change and improve farmers’ livelihoods.

“Over the past decades we have seen extensive deforestation all over the world. The livelihoods of cocoa farmers are significantly impacted by the effects of climate change, which are accelerated by deforestation,” said Daniel Jongejan, senior program manager at PUR Projet.

“Puratos is leading the way in undertaking actions to ensure cocoa will be available for the next generations to come by diversifying income sources of farmers and protecting natural resources.”

Puratos has invested further in Mexico and a new post-harvest centre was erected in the state of Tabasco, which is the heart of the Mexican cocoa region, last month.

This will run alongside newly built fermentation and drying facilities in Comalcalco. After the farmers collect Trinitario cocoa ‘en baba’ (fresh white cocoa beans), an expert team will oversee the fermentation process, which takes place in wooden boxes and lasts six days.

The beans will then be gently sun-dried, bagged and stored in optimal conditions to preserve their quality.