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 our 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.
At Barry Callebaut, Innovation and Sustainability have long been at the heart of its 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 we support cocoa farmers to farm with the future in mind?
“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,” says Steven Retzlaff, President Global Cocoa.
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, Barry Callebaut’s agronomics research will also test resilient farming techniques, pre-and post-harvest processes, fermentation control, diversification of income, and improved cost control. Ultimately, the company aims 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.
Integration of high-yielding and maximum flavor varieties in the planting design will support cross-learning between cocoa farms of all sizes, in different locations and climates from around the world.
Farm of the Future is geared toward realizing the company’s Forever Chocolate plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025. New findings from our farm of the future will further help support our research and will feed into its Farm Services program, reaching cocoa farmers of all origins in Barry Callebaut’s supply chain. This supports the company goal to secure and improve farmers’ livelihoods by increasing the value of their cocoa through improved quality and higher yield.