Sep 17, 2012, updated September 2012
About 800,000 Ivorian farmers produce 1.3 million tonnes of cocoa a year, but after decades of increasing production, the quantity and quality of the country’s yields are falling. Cocoa trees are getting old and sick, and the country’s harvest has stagnated over the last five years, causing successive years of global cocoa deficits and high volatility for cocoa prices.
Nestlé therefore agreed with the Ivorian Government, via the National Agronomical Research Institute (CNRA), to contribute to the renewal of old cocoa plantations in the country through our state-of-the-art Research & Development Centre in Abidjan – a centre of excellence for plant propagation and a focus for our work with farmer cooperatives. Under The Cocoa Plan, 600,000 high-yield plants will have been distributed in the two years to June 2011 and a new propagation laboratory is due to be inaugurated in June 2011, as we aim to distribute 10 million high-yield, disease-resistant plantlets in 10 years.
As part of the first large-scale cocoa plant propagation in Côte d’Ivoire, a laboratory to produce plants via somatic embryogenesis (SE) is being built. In 2009, Nestlé started to produce cocoa plants using a high-yielding variety of cocoa, in seven nurseries established up-country with six cooperatives. By July 2010, 135,000 cocoa plants from these nurseries had been distributed to 282 farmers, and 22 nurseries had been established with 21 cooperatives to produce 600,000 cocoa plants, which will be distributed in June 2011 to about 1,245 farmers. One million plants will be distributed in 2012.
The main impact of the R&D centre will be a qualitative improvement in the quality of local cocoa and an increase in production. The cocoa will be harvested, fermented, dried and stored as per recommended best practice, and will secure premium prices for the suppliers.
Value to Society
The 10 million trees will help to reduce deforestation by replacing 10,000 hectares of old cocoa trees over a decade, each of which will yield three times more cocoa beans. The potential of the propagated varieties is between 1.5 and 2.5 tonnes per hectare, and annual farmers’ income has the potential to rise from USD 480 per hectare to USD 1,800.
Value to Nestlé
Taken together, the potential yield, the technical training of more than 30,000 cocoa farmers, the premiums paid for good quality and the social projects funded via The Cocoa Plan will improve the social environment of farmers and increase the supply of better quality beans to Nestlé’s factories.