The Biolands Group
Biolands International, Tanzania
When Biolands International first started its program in Tanzania, there was hardly any properly fermented and dried cocoa to be found in the area. Today as a result of the training, technical advice, supplies of seedlings and pruning equipment provided by Biolands, some 21,000 smallholder cocoa farmers are producing high-quality organic cocoa. More than two-thirds of the local cocoa crop achieves the highest quality standards. It is properly fermented and dried, and then handpicked.
Biolands is a smallholder cocoa sourcing program and a large exporter of certified organic cocoa. Barry Callebaut has purchased 100% of Biolands' top-grade organic cocoa from Tanzania since 2000. Barry Callebaut acquired a 49% stake in the company in 2008, and has supported activities to extend the Biolands business model to other African countries. Barry Callebaut took over the remaining 51% of the company in February 2014.
Since 1999 Biolands has been working directly with local cocoa farmers in the district of Kyela, Mbeya region, in southwest Tanzania, to increase production, improve the quality of cocoa, and ensure fair prices are paid to farmers. Biolands has provided training in good agricultural practices and technical advice to ensure compliance with organic certification standards. It has also provided pruning equipment and seedlings. Each bag of Biolands cocoa is traceable to the farmer who produced it.
So far, over 1,000,000 cocoa seedlings were nurtured in cocoa tree nurseries and then offered at a modest price to cocoa farmers. In addition, some 10,000 shade trees and more than 136,000 banana trees were planted as part of a joint project with Barry Callebaut to increase biodiversity on the farms. Many farmers replaced unproductive trees with new seedlings. Rejuvenating farms in this way can result in greater yields and higher income once the trees start bearing fruit in about 3 years.
In 2011, Biolands achieved Rainforest Alliance certification.
Bio-United - Sierra Leone
This enterprise, replicating the Biolands model in Tanzania, was founded in 2008 and attained UTZ Certified certification in 2011. About 24,600 farmers are registered with the scheme. The Farmer-centric program offers agricultural skills training and job opportunities to previously unemployed adults and out-of-school youth who missed years of schooling when the education system collapsed during a decade-long civil war.
Biopartenaire – Côte d’Ivoire
Biopartenaire was established in 2010 on the Biolands model and 17,000 farmers are now registered suppliers. Biopartenaire achieved UTZ Certified certification in 2011 and Rainforest Alliance certification in 2012.