Barry Callebaut has offered their support to Cocoa farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire as they carry out pre-harvest activities in preparation for the coming Cocoa crop season. Preparations in the pre-harvest period are crucial to achieving a positive yield. 

The support is part of their Forever Chocolate plan, through the company has committed to raising over 500,000 Cocoa farmers from their supply chain out of poverty by 2025, “making sustainable chocolate the norm.”

They intend to achieve this by introducing modern farming methods that produce increased yields, as well as by showing farmers how they can diversify their income, and overall make the farming operations more professional. 

Established in 2018, our Farm Services Business is focused on supporting farmers with Farm Business Plans (FBPs), which constitute a multi-year model of the potential income a specific farm can generate if managed optimally. Providing farmers with a tailored offering is the key cornerstone of our multi-year FBPs, which present the farmers with a journey out of poverty based on their individual situation and farm profile.

Barry Callebaut

Barry Callebaut has distilled its Farm Business Plan’s approach to sustainable farming to focus on two main factors: additional labour support, and access to farming inputs such as fertilisers and pest control products. 

Through their Farm Services Business, they have determined that by increasing labour efforts in the pre-harvest period through activities such as tree pruning, as well as increasing investment in soil inputs, they are able to achieve higher Cocoa yields, leading to increased income for farmers.

For example, we found that farmers who increased pre-harvest labour to on average 350 hours per hectare thanks to a pilot project with a customer, experienced higher increases in yield in 2020/21. In comparison, farmers who invested on average less than 50 hours per hectare in pre-harvest labour, showed the lowest yield performance.

Barry Callebaut

While these findings clearly show strong benefits to investing in pre-harvest activities, the reality is that most Cocoa farms in West Africa are family-run businesses that lack the funding for additional labour or farming inputs. On average, West African Cocoa farmers spend 70% of their time on post-harvest activities, leaving only 30% of their efforts spent on pre-harvest activities.

Most farmers work on the farms themselves and cannot afford to pay anyone to help them. This is a big challenge as the average two or three hectares a farmer has are both small and big. Small to earn a decent living, but also big to work on your own, knowing there are about 1,000 Cocoa trees per hectare. So the question we are facing is how to drive more labour and more investment into Cocoa farms when farmers usually cannot afford to do so.

Nicolas Mounard, Global Sustainability and Farming Director, Barry Callebaut

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