Cocoa production in Brazil is mostly done by small-holder farmers. During COVID-19 cocoa farmers still need to sell their beans in order to continue receiving an income. This is why all our cocoa buying stations remain open and operating. This may seem like an easy task to keep ‘normally operational’ facilities running, but our network of eleven buying stations cover an expansive area larger than the landmass of Europe. Our buying stations not only play a critical role in the purchasing of cocoa beans, but they also support farmers with cocoa seedlings, fertilizers, soil analysis and crop management.
Continued support during COVID-19
During COVID-19 we have been adapting our practices to ensure we can offer the best possible services to farmers, despite the challenges of reduced face-to-face interactions and reduced business development and community development activities. Whilst group farmer trainings are currently on hold, we are still providing assistance and crop management remotely.
Working here, we understand how important cocoa is as a cash crop for farmers. Many farmers are depending on weekly sales to make their living so the decision to stay open was crucial. We are also supporting farmers via text messaging services - they mainly ask about identifying cocoa diseases, application of fertilizers and cocoa delivery support
Cocoa production activities have continued with the ongoing operation of seedling nurseries, such as the Ilheus nursery, which is situated in the eastern Brazilian state of Bahia. This nursery focuses specifically on the development of cocoa seedlings that have a higher resistance to disease and can produce a higher yield. The network of buying stations play an important role as distributors of seedlings from the nurseries to farmers. This is not a simple logistical process if you consider that buying stations can be located as far away as 3,000 km from nurseries.
During these unprecedented times, supporting cocoa farmers and communities, suppliers and customers, as well as our people, is of the utmost importance. I thank all my colleagues for their great teamwork, dedication and commitment.