Barry Callebaut has announced that it is to spend $1 million (€833,000) on a Center of Cocoa Excellence in the Ivory Coast in a bid to double cocoa yields from farms in the key growing region.
The company proclaimed its intention to construct the centre when it announced its €33.2m, 10-year Cocoa Horizons scheme on cocoa sustainability in March, but further details emerged yesterday.
The Center of Cocoa Excellence will be located in Pacobo in the Department of Tiassalé in the south-central cocoa growing area of the Ivory Coast.
The centre’s intention will be to promote advanced agricultural techniques in the Ivory Coast in order to boost yields.
The centre will feature a 30-hectare "Showcase Farm" to test the latest intercropping approaches, while farmers will also be trained on grafting and farm regeneration techniques, which Callebaut says will help to double yields.
The Showcase Farm will also feature other crops including plantain, coconut, mango, pineapple, beans maize, and rubber.
Anke Massart, project leader for the Cocoa Horizons project in the Ivory Coast, said:. "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."
Callebaut added that the other crops could give variety to farmers and their families’ diets and would offer another source of income “to complement the earnings from cocoa”.
Facilities and training
The centre will feature a classroom, nurseries of cocoa and shade trees as well as fermentation and drying facilities.
Selected farmers from around 20 cooperatives already participating in Callebaut’s sustainability and certification activities will receive training when the centre become operational in October this year
The company also plans to construct five Farmer Academies in the country as part of the Cocoa Horizons initiative.