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EU to Ban Commodities Farmed Under Deforested Conditions

Commodities, including cocoa, oil palm, coffee, oil palm, rubber, and wood, farmed (by clearing forest) under a deforested condition will be banned in the European Union (EU) Markets.

The world’s largest importer of cocoa, that is Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the EU says its main reason for the deforestation-free products regulation known as EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) is to protect forests and their resources in third countries.

Mr Valdis Dombrovskis, the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for an Economy that Works for People and Commissioner for Trade, speaking at a two-day seminar in Brussels, clarified that products from farms put under cultivation before the year 2020 were exempted.

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Organised by the EU, the seminar titled ‘Sustainability Policies and International Trade’, sought to provide education on deforestation products to 20 journalists selected from countries the EU trades with.

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The regulation was first outlined in the 2019 Commission Communication on Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests.

The commitment was later confirmed by the European Green Deal, the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the Farm to Fork Strategy.

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He said, “Consumers of finished products like chocolate and coffee in the EU are concerned about the continued clearing of forests to cultivate raw materials used to produce these products.

“We are all experiencing an increase in temperature, dry spells, and unpredictable rains occurring as a result of our collective actions. Protecting the remaining forests in the world, which provide many services is key to helping us to ease the impact of climate crisis.”

Mr Dombrovskis said the EU was partly responsible for deforestation and degradation and had resolved to lead the way to solving it.

He noted that it was working with Civil Society Organisations in the Ghanaian forestry sector, COCOBOD, and other stakeholders to carry out an analysis and modalities on traceability.

The EU, as part of the implementation of the regulation, has committed over 700 million Euros towards initiatives, including the establishment of a Joint Research Center.

The JRC has used 30 years of expertise in geospatial technologies to provide a global map of the extent of destruction of forests in 2020, to be used in a new observatory on deforestation.

To prove traceability throughout the supply chain back to the source, the new requirements involve collecting geolocation data and due diligence information.

Already, COCOBOD as part of the Cocoa Management System (CMS), has commenced an initiative called the Ghana Cocoa Traceability Systems (GCTS), which seeks to trace cocoa sold to the licensed buying companies from the farmer to the final consumer – a key component of the EU regulatory framework.

The initiative comprises of actors along the value chain that would work to ensure that Ghana’s cocoa sector continues to maintain its niche as the producer of “Premium Quality Cocoa” on the international market.

Experts say compliance is expensive and will be prohibitive for many smallholder producers from indigenous and local communities in the Global South.

Mr Charles Brefo-Nimo, Senior Program Manager, IDH, told the Ghana News Agency that, COCOBOD, a regulator and operator, needed to collaborate with industry players to create the enabling environment to ensure due diligence and compliance in the cocoa supply chain.

“…they will need to build systems and tools that will enhance mutual trust and transparency among key actors, including Cocoa farmers,” he said.

“As convenors of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, which is an unprecedented collaboration between the governments of Ghana and Ivory Coast and 36 signatory Cocoa and chocolate companies, we have an interest to ensure that all actors are in alignment with the EUDR.”

Deforestation is posing significant challenges to Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa producer.

Between 2002 and 2020, the country lost 9.3 per cent of its humid primary forests, predominantly in the High Forest Zone, which is a crucial cocoa production belt.

Agricultural activities, particularly cocoa farming, and expansion, are one of the leading drivers of deforestation, underscoring the urgent need for intervention.

Forests provide a broad variety of environmental, economic, and social benefits, including timber and non-wood forest products and environmental services essential for humankind, as they harbour most of the Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity.

They maintain ecosystem functions, help protect the climate system, provide clean air, and play a vital role in the purification of waters and soils as well as for water retention and recharge.

Large forest areas act as a moisture source and help prevent desertification of continental regions.

In addition, forests provide subsistence and income to approximately one-third of the world’s population and the destruction of forests has serious consequences for the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people, including indigenous peoples and local communities, who depend heavily on forest ecosystems.


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