By visiting our website you agree that we are using cookies to ensure you to get the best experience.
  • Home
  • Blog
  • NEW CFI report shows acceleration in forest protection

Cocoa pods’ compost for environmental & economic resilience

(Article en français disponible ici )

As part of our climate transition and sustainable sourcing strategy, TOUTON Group has recently launched a project in partnership with LONO, an Ivorian engineering company specialised in adding value to agricultural by-products, to transform cocoa pods into organic fertiliser. 

This pilot project, in progress from September 2023 to August 2024, aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions linked to cocoa production, while contributing to the economic and climate resilience of local communities. Notably targeting the methane generated by the fermentation of cocoa pods’ heaps left to degrade on the parcels (anaerobic process).

With the support of LONO engineers, waste design and management specialists, Touton's sustainability team has been working with the SOCAET2 cooperative which counts close to 2,000 members producers in the Nawa region of Côte d’Ivoire. 

 Pie chart Compost SOCAET2 baseline 202312 SOCAET tas de cabosse 202312 SOCAET plateforme compostage   

*Data in the pie chart is based on a sample representing 1/3 of the cooperative's producers

Audrey Lagauche, Cocoa Sustainability Director, explains how the project came about:  

 "When we were evaluating the carbon footprint of our cocoa value chains, we decided to run a deep dive with partner cooperatives in Côte d'Ivoire to identify the main emission factors at the 'scope 3' level. The results showed that the current composting practices were high emitters and represented a major lever for improving the environmental impact of our supply chains. We, therefore, built and financed this project with a local technical partner to address two key issues: cocoa producers’ dependence on imported fertilisers and the reduction of GHG emissions.” 

Construction is currently underway for a composting unit covering approximately 100m2 at the cooperative site, designed to produce between 4 to 6 tonnes of compost per month. The facility is dedicated to the fermentation of the pods using an aerobic process by ensuring a continuous supply of oxygen. Using this approach, we expect to significantly reduce methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, compared to emissions from the anaerobic process employed in the plantation. 

In addition, the SOCAET2 teams are undergoing training to oversee compost production. Throughout the initial composting cycle, they will receive daily support to ensure the quality of the compost as well as be involved in establishing five demonstration plots to train cocoa producers. 

A key success factor for the project will be the use of compost by farmers to fertilise their cocoa plantations. This approach will not only allow farmers to cut costs by reducing reliance on imported mineral fertilisers, which are prone to inflation but also to enable them to enhance cocoa yields using locally produced compost. Moreover, this practice will contribute to improving soil composition and increasing water retention capacity in the plantations.

 Mr Rasmane BELEM, Chairman of SOCAET2’s Board of Directors since 2013, explains the reasons for the cooperatives’ engagement: 202312 SOCAET equipe projet plateforme compostage

 "The cooperative decided to take an active role in this project to support our producers in enhancing their crop yields. Our primary objective is   to elevate yields per hectare up to 1,500 kg/ha. (...) At the cooperative level, our initial challenge will be to train our staff with the necessary   expertise in composting techniques and efficient logistics management. Regarding producers, our lead farmers are working to raise awareness   about the myriad benefits of compost for sustainable and profitable agriculture within our cooperative and across Côte d'Ivoire at large."

202312 SOCAET sol planteurMr. Yacouba OUEDRAOGO, a cocoa farmer with a decade of experience and a member of SOCAET2, has been a beneficiary of the longstanding collaboration between Touton and the cooperative. He has undergone training in Good Agricultural, Social, and Environmental practices and will be among the first to try the compost generated by the new platform. He explains why and how he has already adopted more environmentally friendly practices, as well as his expectations of the new project: 

"Climate change is impacting cocoa farming negatively. We find it challenging to accurately track the seasons and establish a suitable cultivation calendar. As a response, I began embracing composting and moved away from using chemicals. Now, I employ manual cleaning and pruning methods to reduce the incidence of insect pests. 
Organic fertiliser is cheaper than chemical alternatives, and it is non-toxic. Therefore, compost will improve living conditions in the community because it will be cheaper, natural, and accessible to everyone.
The composting project is warmly welcomed in our cooperative."

In addition, a data collection and monitoring system has been set up to calculate the impact of the project, particularly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

 202312 Léa AudreyLea Jenin, Touton Group's Manager for Environment and Climate Resilience, explains: 

 "Biomass composting makes sense for Touton's low carbon roadmap. We will study the impact of composting on GHG emissions whilst monitoring the carbon content of the soil. In this way, the project will generate knowledge for action, covering technical and economic aspects as well as   environmental impacts.”

 We are looking forward to the first results and recommendations arising from these analyses. Combined with the rate of adoption of compost by producers, we will be able to evaluate the viability of expanding this project on a broader scale. Upon the successful validation of the model, the   TOUTON Group will be ready to promptly implement additional collective composting units, in collaboration with its partner cooperatives in Côte d'Ivoire and beyond.