Ecuador is a country with a deep knowledge of agricultural production, rooted in crops as diverse as coffee, bananas, and shrimps. In the world of chocolate, it is the world’s third-largest cocoa producer and one of the fastest-growing cocoa origins, as well as the largest global producer of fine flavor cocoa. Combined with long-established expertise in innovation and sustainability, Ecuador is the perfect match for Barry Callebaut to build a dedicated hub to power cocoa farming research to support cocoa farming resilience and productivity.
Technology and innovation are key to the future of food system evolution, providing opportunities for improving farmer productivity and resilience, combating climate change, and reducing the impact of agriculture on the environment.
The company stated that at Barry Callebaut, Innovation and Sustainability have long been at the heart of strategy. With a network of over 30 R&D centers, and more than 350 dedicated R&D colleagues, the farm is a natural extension of research expertise to address the question: how can they support cocoa farmers to farm with the future in mind?
"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," said Pablo Perversi, chief innovation, sustainability & quality officer, global head of Gourmet.
The ideal testing and proving ground
According to the release, the 640-hectare property is located in the Cerecita Valley, between Guayaquil, the country's largest city, and the Pacific Ocean. Operations and infrastructure development will start immediately with the planting of cocoa seedlings on the farm's 400 hectares of non-planted land. Integration of high-yielding and maximum flavor varieties in the planting design will also support cross-learning between cocoa farms of all sizes, in different locations and climates from around the world.
Next to cocoa bean variety, our agronomics research will also test resilient farming techniques, pre-and post-harvest processes, fermentation control, diversification of income, and improved cost control. Ultimately, we aim to establish the best cocoa farming practices that are climate-smart and enhance sustainability and farm profitability. Once the farm is fully operational, it aims to employ approximately 80 people from the local area
Steven Retzlaff, president of Global Cocoa said, "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."
Farm of the Future supporting Forever Chocolate
Farm of the Future is geared toward realizing our Forever Chocolate plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025. New findings from the farm of the future will further help support research and will feed into the Farm Services program, reaching cocoa farmers of all origins in Barry Callebaut's supply chain. This supports our goal to secure and improve farmers' livelihoods by increasing the value of their cocoa through improved quality and higher yield.