A number of major hurdles in the fields of human rights, economic viability and environmental protection need to be resolved when procuring sustainably produced cocoa. The main problem is cocoa farmer poverty. They have to deal with low and volatile cocoa prices, declining soil fertility, excessively small allotments and climate change. Constant increases in the cost of living also exacerbate their situation. In many cases, poverty results in abusive child labour. When yields decline on cocoa plots, the use of agrochemicals is often considered the first solution. As their next step, they then clear new forest. This leads to health risks and environmental damage, and also acts as a driver for climate change: cocoa production is the cause of one of the highest deforestation rates in the world.
HALBA sources 45 percent of its cocoa beans from Ghana, and the remainder from Ecuador, Honduras, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Madagascar. In all of these countries, HALBA is pursuing various initiatives in order to improve conditions for people and the environment. These include cocoa bean certification, direct procurement, transparency and supply chain traceability. Direct procurement from smallholder organisations means that intermediaries can be avoided, and farmers receive a higher proportion of the purchase price. Long-term contracts and clear guidelines create trust and planning security. HALBA is committed to ensuring better local conditions by offering interest-free advance financing. Farm mapping is carried out in conjunction with local cooperatives in order to ensure transparency within the value chain through to primary level. A core element of these fundamental improvement initiatives for HALBA is the promotion of an alternative growing method, which successfully addresses various problems associated with cocoa production: dynamic agroforestry (DAF). DAF focuses on optimising the system as a whole and not maximising individual crops such as cocoa. HALBA is implementing projects in this area in Ghana, Ecuador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Madagascar. HALBA also actively supports projects to ensure a living income and to protect children, in particular in Ghana.