Protect nature

Using regenerative agriculture, providing farmers with quality seedlings and demonstrating climate-smart growing techniques.


Protect nature


Protect and regenerate nature by:

  • — Optimising our natural resource management practices
  • — Improving farmer resilience to the effects of climate change
  • — Becoming a Net Zero emissions company in our Scope 1, 2 and 3 by 2050

As farmers worldwide compete for natural resources, entire ecosystems are becoming stressed beyond their capacity to adapt. ECOM wants to transform farming systems in all the areas where we operate, so that these agricultural ecosystems become sustainable and biodiversity is safeguarded. By working with partners including our clients, academic institutions and NGOs, we can introduce regenerative practices and climate-smart growing methods that will help farmers improve their capacity to absorb, recover and adapt to a changing climate.

Areas for strategic focus

Innovating for the future

Sustainable agricultural ecosystems are ones in which people, productivity and biodiversity co-exist and thrive.

ECOM is partnering with industry leaders to develop and support the innovative solutions that will make this happen.

What this means in practice

Landscape approach

ECOM is committed to engaging in pre-competitive collective action and co-investment in cocoa landscapes. By taking a landscape approach, we can engage holistically with larger communities and government to pool resources to optimise impact. Through these initiatives, we leverage individual investment and collective action to restore and reforest degraded forest landscapes while supporting communities through intervention like child and forced labour monitoring, payment for environmental services and climate smart agriculture.

Coffee’s BROCAP® trap

The coffee berry borer (CBB) is one of the world’s most destructive pests, found in all major coffee-producing regions worldwide. Infected beans are unfit for consumption, making the loss of potential earnings considerable. Conventionally, they have been eliminated using chemical agro-inputs, which entail a risk of pest resistance and an accumulation of toxic residues. SMS is now supporting the use of the BROCAP® trap, an environmentally friendly alternative developed by CIRAD and PROCAFÉ. By trapping the CBB, pesticide use is reduced, systems are protected and the coffee itself is more wholesome. Data from Indonesia shows that 97% of insects caught in the trap are CBBs, meaning its natural predators remain at large.

Organic cotton in Tajikstan

Organic cotton is grown using natural methods such as crop rotation, green manures and absolutely no artificial pesticides or fertilisers. It is a key part of our sustainability strategy, and we have the possibility of extending our organic cotton partnerships to Tajikistan with The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). These kinds of partnerships enable ECOM to encourage the spread of regenerative farming and protection of ecosystems across every continent.

Supporting forest-positive futures

To safeguard important areas of biodiversity, it’s essential that we address deforestation and transform growing practices to support a forest-positive future.

ECOM’s agroforestry initiatives in coffee and cocoa are integrating trees into farming systems to improve soil and water health and preserve local biodiversity. In cotton, we’re working with our clients, producers and academics to tackle the challenges posed not only by deforestation but by urban growth and tourism.

What this means in practice

Cocoa & forests initiative

We are participating in the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI), which is a public-private partnership based on frameworks for action and action plans for the private and public sectors in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana that support our commitments to: protect and restore forests, promote sustainable cocoa production and farmers’ livelihoods, and engage communities and boost social inclusion. We have already launched agroforestry projects in Latin America and West Africa. For example, our joint venture 1,200 ha OFIR plantation in Sierra Leone serves as a model for how these projects can work at scale by partnering with local communities.

Regeneration in Latin America

In 2021 we joined a leading cocoa brand and transformative asset manager 12Tree on the Andean Cacao venture with a commitment to regenerate unproductive farmland in Latin America. The project will oversee the regeneration of over 2,000 hectares of cattle grazing land into a highly productive, sustainable farm with the goal of delivering quality carbon-neutral cocoa beans. The farm will help prove climate-smart farming practices that can then be scaled globally. Together, we aim to provide a working model that will improve carbon capture in soil, engender healthy soil, protect biodiversity, create living-wage job opportunities and support neighbouring communities.

Cotton – bringing healthy soil back to Brazil

The climate crisis is having a severe impact on the health of soil – and this in turn impacts on farming. In Brazil, ECOM’s cotton division is working with experts in soil, sustainability and agronomy on the regenagri® project. The initiative supports farms to transition to regenerative farming techniques that increase organic soil matter, encourage biodiversity, reduce GHG emissions and sequester CO2. One supplier, who started with the program 5 years ago and currently produces 7,500 mt of cotton, has shown a 34% reduction in use of chemicals, alongside significant efficiencies in fertiliser use, land and water use, and greater carbon fixation. In the US, ECOM is the first merchant to be certified regenagri®, meaning we have been able to provide traceable, certified bales.

Supporting farmers to reduce emissions

Longer dry seasons, reduced rainfall and disease are already making life harder for farmers.

At ECOM, we’re supporting farmers to tackle climate change, fortify their farms and sustain crop production far into the future. We’re not doing this in isolation – we’re collaborating with our producers, customers and stakeholders all along our supply chains to find the synergies we need for maximum climate change impact.

What this means in practice

Breaking new ground in Nicaragua

Since 2011, Philippe Courtel has been on the front lines of cocoa innovation for ECOM. In the past ten years, he has seen first-hand the effect of global warming on farming systems, from soil degradation to reduced productivity and drought. Philippe believes, however, that we can use science to combat those effects. In his work in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, he has helped develop and roll out a state-of-the-art technique – somatic embryogenesis – that enables the creation of coffee hybrids, thereby improving plant quality and increasing yield. This is just is one of the techniques being developed by ECOM, SMS and our partners to create resilient plants that can withstand the onslaught of climate change and diseases.

More efficient cocoa farming in Ecuador

Supporting more efficient growing is key to helping farmers to adapt to climate change and to protecting the environment. In Ecuador, ECOM’s cocoa division has partnered with leading companies to find ways of making technology used in large industrial farms work for smallholders. Together, we developed several new technical packages and protocols for small-scale farms for irrigation and fertilisation, then established demonstration plots in Ecuador and Peru to validate the kits and fertiliser blends. Farmers who took up the packages were trained and given access to affordable finance – and, to show them the value of investing in our innovation for their business, we shared our cost-benefit and climate change vulnerability assessments with them.

Progress through partnership

ECOM’s cotton division is exploring a number of ways to measure and manage our impact, in partnership with several major global organisations. We were the first merchant to join the Better Cotton (BC) and played a key role in shaping its development. We are also an active member of Textile Exchange®, a global nonprofit organisation that’s positively impacting the climate by accelerating the use of preferred fibers across the global textile industry. By 2030, its goal is to guide the industry to achieve a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within fiber and raw material production. We currently participate in their Sustainable Cotton and Organic Cotton Round Tables, as well as in the 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge Team and the Fiber Crops Module (FCM) pilot. We know that by collaborating, we’ll increase our knowledge and reach and, ultimately, progress faster.

Cutting Carbon

Setting our Net Zero target has been the culmination of a long process and a commitment to be fully in line with the 1.5 degree scenario of the Paris Agreement. Most of our emissions as a commodities trader come from our Scope 3 operations.

However, in order to achieve our goal of being a Net Zero organisation by 2050, it’s vital that we look at how we can reduce the Scope 1 and 2 emissions produced in our factories and warehouses. We will reduce our carbon footprint through sustainable operations in energy, water and waste, including the use of fossil-fuel alternatives. Already we use solar power and biogas as alternative power sources at the farmer and facility level, as well as sophisticated techniques to treat wastewater and recycle waste.

What this means in practice

The factory of the future

Acom invested into 1250 kWp of rooftop solar power capacity, under an FIT (feed-in tariff) with national grid operator EVN. Under this contract, EVN buys back at fixed price our excess of production and we keep purchasing power from EVN when the solar production goes below our consumption. We actually produce more electricity than we consume, meaning it operates as carbon negative.

Scope 3 projects

Nestlé’s Forest Positive strategy launched in June 2021 aims to contribute to reforestation efforts and having a positive impact on its broader sourcing landscapes. A main component of this strategy is the Global Reforestation Program, which aims to plant and grow 200 million trees by 2030 in the sourcing landscapes. Nestlé’s projects will help restore natural forest landscapes, introduce agroforestry systems for suitable crops and support other natural ecosystem restoration activities. Nicaragua is one of the countries in Latin America to implement the ambitious Bosques del Mañana project, which is part of Nestlé’s Global Reforestation Program. Between 2021 and 2026, Bosques del Mañana will plant 8.6 million trees in Nestlé’s dairy and coffee supply chains and contribute to accelerate the transition to sustainable and regenerative farming systems. ECOM is responsible for the execution of the project.

Nigeria factory solar power

Tulip Cocoa Processing Ltd. (TCP), is a cocoa processing factory in Ogun state Nigeria. Due to various reasons TCP is not connected to the grid and was solely dependent on diesel generators for electricity and diesel boilers for steam. Therefore TCP started a project which was focussed around reducing the factory's dependance on diesel thus reducing cost and its carbon footprint. The project entailed installing a solar field, batteries and a biomass boiler. During the day the factory can be powered 100% using solar and the generators are only used during night time and bad weather. The solar field was one of the biggest in West Africa at the time of installation. The Biomass boiler, using cocoa shells generated from the factory, has taken over 80-100% of the factory's steam needs. Total diesel consumption has been halved thus making the project a great success. We also helped the neighbouring community village by providing them solar streetlights, which makes it a safer place at night.