Barry Callebaut Ecuador Farm

BARRY CALLEBAUT DEVELOPS RESEARCH PLANT IN ECUADOR CALLED  ‘FARM OF THE FUTURE’ 

Chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut recently announced what they refer to as a “Farm of the Future” located in the Cerecita Valley in Ecuador, the world’s third-largest producer of Cocoa.

The company issued information about the facility in a press release, highlighting the areas of research they are conducting, some of which will benefit the company and others which, they say, can benefit the farmers.

The new 640-hectare farm was set up as an extension to the chocolate company’s Research and Development operations, with over 30 R&D centres already established, which they say is to answer the question: “How can we support Cocoa farmers to farm with the future in mind?”

We hope that is true, and there may be cases where this can be proven, but there is also a lack of evidence that shows a correlation, at a macro level, between improved farming practices and improved farmer livelihoods, as the chocolate companies seem to gain the most by gains in efficiencies.

According to Wageningen University and Research, Cocoa farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire earn $1.42 and $1.23 per person per day, respectively, while the living income benchmarks are $2.08 and $2.55 despite the efforts from companies like Barry Callebaut in the region.

Barry Callebaut explains that the three-pronged goal of their Cocoa R&D efforts is to establish climatesmart, sustainable and profitable Cocoa farming practices.

Our Farm of the Future aims to be a contributor to the global movement on food system innovation. The establishment of this hub is a valuable vehicle for providing new opportunities for sustainable Cocoa farming, innovation, and research.

Pablo Perversi, Chief Innovation, Sustainability & Quality Officer, Global Head of Gourmet.

The farm currently has 400 hectares of fallow ground, which the company aims to sow immediately with Cocoa seedlings. To facilitate cross-learning between Cocoa farms of all sizes and climates in different locations, high-yielding and maximum-flavoured varieties of the crop will be integrated into planting designs.

The Farm of the Future’s agronomic research will go beyond testing different varieties of Cocoa bean, looking at areas such as fermentation control, pre- and post-harvest processes, resilient farming techniques, diversification of income and improved cost control.

With the opening of Farm of the Future, Barry Callebaut is further strengthening its Cocoa farming research capabilities for the benefit of Cocoa yield, sustainability, and quality.

Steven Retzlaff, President of Global Cocoa.

The current world shortage of fertilizer is making the need for more resilient and higher yielding varietals more urgent, and this is something that we expect is a topic of conversation at the research and development meetings.

Once fully operational, the new farm is expected to employ an estimated 80 people from the local area. Barry Callebaut has said that the Farm of the Future is the next step in realising their ‘Forever Chocolate’ plan, which has the goal of ‘making sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025’. To achieve this goal, the company has said they aim to improve farmers’ livelihoods by increasing the value of their Cocoa through improved quality and higher yield.

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