It’s been an unusual task for a chocolate company to help develop a new formulation fertilizer and engage with fertilizer and financial institutes for the production, import and credit mechanisms for the sale of high quality fertilizer. And we still have a long way to go before we will habitually replenish the nutrients we export as cocoa beans from cocoa plantations. But the collaboration on the “Fertilizer Initiative,” led by the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), together with the fertilizer and cocoa industry has proven to be a powerful mechanism to get us on the way.
The Fertilizer Initiative succeeded to produce 10,000 metric tons (mt) of new formulation fertilizer, of which 8,000 mt is now available from warehouses in Cote d’Ivoire. This may not look significant against the future need of 1 Billion mt of fertilizer but we now have a new, better and cheaper formulation fertilizer, and the partners we need to produce, export, import and distribute it, while we’re working on credit mechanisms with financial institutes.
It is time to sum up the accomplishments of IDH and partners, including Mars Chocolate, and cautiously celebrate our success so far:
- Development of new formulation fertilizer – not only cheaper, but addressing soil acidification
- OCP, a Moroccan fertilizer company, that has taken the challenge to produce such fertilizer and export it to Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria
- The cocoa industry, that has shouldered development cost for the first batch of new formulation fertilizer
- Fertilizer companies that now realize the opportunity to produce 1 Billion mt of fertilizer for the cocoa industry alone
- The Government of Cote d’Ivoire that has mentioned its appreciation for the Fertilizer Initiative, and has announced it will put a subsidy in place to make fertilizer even more affordable
- And financial institutes that take a new interest in credit mechanisms for small holder cocoa farmers.
We’ve only supplied 1% of the fertilizer we need to the cocoa farmers. But perhaps this was the most difficult 1% and we can now focus on scaling this effort up!
The farmers need fertilizer, the industry needs farmers to use fertilizer and produce cocoa beans, the governments of cocoa producing countries need a thriving agricultural sector, the fertilizer industry needs a market for a variety of fertilizers, and the financing industry needs to find to extend credit to small holder farmers – let’s go for it!