- New CHF 1 million training and research center to be operational from October 2012
- "Showcase Farm” will be used to test state-of-the-art intercropping approaches
- Cocoa farmers will receive training in grafting and farm regeneration techniques to increase crop yields
Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, announced it is establishing a CHF 1 million (EUR 833,000 / USD 1.05 million) Center of Cocoa Excellence to promote advanced agricultural techniques in Côte d’Ivoire, the world's largest cocoa producing country. The Center will include training facilities for farmers and a 30-hectare “showcase farm” to demonstrate state-of-the-art intercropping techniques and other yield enhancement practices such as grafting to rejuvenate aging cocoa farms and double farm productivity.
The Center of Cocoa Excellence will be situated in Pacobo in the Department of Tiassalé in the south-central cocoa growing area of Côte d’Ivoire. A cornerstone of Barry Callebaut’s “Cocoa Horizons” global sustainability initiative, the Center is scheduled to be operational from October 2012.
The “showcase farm” will comprise about 30 hectares, ten of which will be planted this year starting in June. Barry Callebaut will use the farm to test different approaches for growing cocoa with other crops. The company is building on its prior experience with intercropping of compatible plants to improve productivity and biodiversity. Since 2010 Barry Callebaut has supported a local project in the region to demonstrate optimal methods of intercropping cocoa, banana and rubber with the goal of improving yields per hectare.
Some of the crops that will be planted alongside cocoa trees on the “showcase farm” include: plantain, coconut, mango, pineapple, beans and maize, as well as rubber and others. Shade trees will also be planted.
“This effort reflects the importance of promoting biodiversity – planting other food crops and shade trees in addition to cocoa - on smallholder farms,” said Anke Massart, Project Leader Cocoa Horizons in Côte d’Ivoire. “An abundant variety of plants and trees simulates the natural diversity found in the rainforest and results in a healthy ecosystem. This, in turn, means more productive cocoa trees.”
In addition to the environmental benefits, planting other food crops and trees together with cocoa also directly benefits farmers and their families by providing variety to the family diet as well as creating additional sources of income to complement the earnings from cocoa.
Barry Callebaut’s Center of Cocoa Excellence as well as five planned Farmer Academies will be located in important cocoa-growing regions of Ivory Coast as part of the company’s Cocoa Horizons initiative. Cocoa Horizons defines a portfolio of yield enhancement techniques aimed at increasing the yields per hectare and quality of cocoa grown by smallholder farmers. These innovative approaches are essential to ensure future supplies of quality cocoa and improved livelihoods for farmers and their families.
In addition to the “showcase farm,” the Center of Cocoa Excellence will also include a building with a classroom, nurseries of cocoa and shade trees as well as fermentation and drying facilities. From October, the Center at Pacobo will offer training to selected farmers from about 20 cooperatives currently participating in BC’s sustainability and certification activities.
With annual sales of about CHF 4.6 billion (EUR 3.6 billion/USD 5.0 billion) for fiscal year 2010/11, Zurich-based Barry Callebaut is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate – from the cocoa bean to the finished chocolate product. Barry Callebaut is present in 27 countries, operates around 40 production facilities and employs a diverse and dedicated workforce of about 6,000 people. Barry Callebaut serves the entire food industry focusing on industrial food manufacturers, artisans and professional users of chocolate (such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs or bakers), the latter with its two global brands Callebaut® and Cacao Barry®. Barry Callebaut is the global leader in cocoa and chocolate innovations and provides a comprehensive range of services in the fields of product development, processing, training and marketing. Cost leadership is another important reason why global as well as local food manufacturers work together with Barry Callebaut. Through its broad range of sustainability initiatives and research activities, the company works with farmers, farmer organizations and other partners to help ensure future supplies of cocoa and improve farmer livelihoods