Quantifying and managing GHG emissions in global agri-food supply chains: A case study on cocoa farming in Ghana.
Paper in proceedings, 2013
Agriculture contributes approximately a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Increasingly, food manufacturers and retailers are looking to use their controlling position in the agri-food supply chain to promote sustainability through improved farm management practices. One important mechanism to achieve this is through promoting consumer products certified by schemes, such as Rainforest Alliance or Fair-trade, among others. These schemes provide an assurance that certain general management standards are being met. However, these forms of certification rarely cover specific impacts such as contribution to climate change. Understanding the GHG impact of different farm management practices requires reliable and quantitative tools based on information which farmers can readily supply and providing results in a readily intelligible form. Such a tool should ideally be universally applicable, not just to food production in the developed world.
This contribution describes an application of the ‘Cool Farm Tool’ developed at the University of Aberdeen for a consortium of food manufacturers (Hillier et al., 2011) for quantifying farm-level GHG emissions, to test its applicability on the developing world, specifically on cocoa farms in Ghana with different experiences of ‘sustainability’ and certification. The results suggest that environmentally certified farms have a lower GHG emission profile than non-certified farms and also provide some indication into the key practices driving the difference, particularly land-use change and provision of shade trees which sequester carbon. Furthermore, the case study highlights the challenges of using the tool with smallholders and the complexities of modelling the cocoa production system. The key insights are used to provide recommendations for improving the tool, the replicability of the approach at scale in a global food chain and the possible implications for certification design.