The €500,000 scheme, which is funded partly by the Austrian Development Agency, aims to improve yields and bean quality in a remote area of Nicaragua where rapidly-changing land use has resulted in a decrease in the number of fertile cacao plants. It is hoped the scheme will strengthen the supply chain and give manufacturers access to better quality, organic cacao. Organic chocolate has increased in popularity in the past few years to become an important sector in the global chocolate market. It is an area of growth targeted by major manufacturers such as Cadbury, who own UK's organic firm Green & Blacks, and Hershey, who own organic subsidiary Dagoba. According to market researchers Leatherhead International, the UK organic chocolate market is the largest in the EU with sales of $35 million (€27.3m) in 2005. By investing in the communities at the start of the supply chain, the Bioversity International organisation hope to bolster trade links while ensuring growers receive a far price for the beans. Around 1200 farming families are based in the Waslala community which is experiencing dwindling numbers of high-quality cacao trees. The Bioversity project will bring together local farmers, scientists and foreign chocolate producers to introduce sustainable farming practices to the area. Bioversity scientist Dr Michael Hermann said: "With our partners we will work at all steps in the chain from cacao farmer to chocolate eater to give everyone a taste of the riches of cacao diversity. "I don't know which I am looking forward to more, better lives for the farmers or better chocolate," he added.