Are digital innovations key to sustainable cocoa farming?

Megan Willis, Sustainability Director, Cargill Agricultural Supply Chains, Asia Pacific

In advance of our sustainability focused webinar with PRCA, Spurwing reached out to Cargill’s Megan Willis to hear her thoughts on the role of digital technology in cocoa farming.

Often, we assume digital is the silver bullet for sustainable food systems, but it’s a little more nuanced than that.

Cocoa farming involves a lot of manual labour, with limited opportunity for innovation. Farmers are often reluctant to adopt digital technology, either due to cost or lack of confidence, which is why training programmes and financial assistance is imperative in helping farmers adapt to digital methods.

Even when there is a lag in smallholder uptake rate, digital innovations still play a strong role in making the overall cocoa supply chain more sustainable because. End-to-end traceability solutions are the backbone of a sustainable sourcing programme and digital technology is critical in linking end consumer goods to the farmers who produced it.

Physical products can be traced to farmers, including data about their practices and locations, which ensures the cocoa is not sourced from protected areas. The data can also be used to calculate GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions, combining information about fertilizer use, tree planting, and distance the cocoa travelled. Finally, we can link traceability systems to fintech solutions, which allows farmers to access secure digital wallets or to apply for loans to improve their farming business.

This article originally appeared in the June 2021 edition of our newsletter. Sign up at the bottom of our home page to receive exciting updates via email!

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