Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, has launched an extensive agronomic research programme in Malaysia aimed at developing new, sustainable cocoa cultivation techniques. The programme hopes to yield new insights into practical measures for boosting the sustainability, productivity and quality of cocoa production – and hence profitability for local farmers in a responsible and sustainable manner. Covering a total area of 10ha of an existing cocoa plantation, the programme constitutes a large-scale experiment testing a wide variety of pragmatic variables relevant to the Asian region.
The research programme is being conducted in collaboration with the Malaysian company Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad. The trials will be conducted under a variety of conditions in both new and existing plantations. Several agricultural techniques and good agriculture practices (GAP) will be tested, including new pruning and grafting techniques, the use of organic fertilisers, other organic cultivation techniques and agro-forestry principles. A further area of focus will be improved post-harvest cocoa treatment techniques to improve Malaysian cocoa bean quality to achieve ‘zero-defect’ status.
Hans Vriens, chief innovation officer at Barry Callebaut: “Securing the future of the cocoa industry demands that we find more sustainable cultivation methods now. This important programme is proving key to our overarching goal of boosting the viability of cocoa production by improving both quality and productivity and, by doing so, increasing incomes for local farmers and their communities.”
Preparations are already underway for the rehabilitation and planting of the experimental plots. The first preliminary results are expected in a year’s time, around June 2012. Barry Callebaut is excited about the prospects of adding even more innovative techniques to its portfolio, aimed at fostering a more sustainable industry for local growers, producers and consumers throughout the globe.