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 their strategy, the company says. With a network of over 30 R&D centres, and more than 350 dedicated R&D colleagues, the farm is a natural extension of their research expertise to address the question: how can we support cocoa farmers to farm with the future in mind?

Pablo Perversi, Chief Innovation, Sustainability & Quality Officer, Global Head of Gourmet said: “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.”

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 flavour 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, the agronomics research will also test resilient farming techniques, pre-and post-harvest processes, fermentation control, diversification of income, and improved cost control. Ultimately, they 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 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 is geared toward realising the Forever Chocolate plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025. New findings from the farm of the future will further help support the company’s research and will feed into their Farm Services program, reaching cocoa farmers of all origins in Barry Callebaut’s supply chain. This supports their goal to secure and improve farmers’ livelihoods by increasing the value of their cocoa through improved quality and higher yield.

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Editor: Kiran Grewal