Mondelez International is joining forces with Olam Food Ingredients to boost environmentally-friendly cocoa by creating what is believed to be the world’s largest sustainable cocoa farm in Indonesia.
Mondelez, owner of Cadbury’s and Toblerone, and Olam plan to create a state-of-the-art 2,000-hectare cocoa model farm on Seram, the largest island in Maluku province.
It will trial a “modernised and professional blueprint for best practice cocoa farming” and prioritise optimal land usage and community planning.
The farm will contain high-tech features such as sensors in fields, modern irrigation systems, and advanced climate and plant science technology, which the companies said was rarely used to grow cocoa at this scale.
If successful, the same model will be rolled out to other farms in the region. The project aims to create 700 jobs for local residents, nearly half of them women.
The farm, on previously deforested brown field land, will be planted with cocoa, shade trees, forest and fruit trees to promote biodiversity and carbon capture.
More than 1,080 hectares have already been planted but one area of 47 hectares has been identified as high conservation value forest and will be set aside as a habitat for flora and fauna.
The project will include a nursery that can grow up to 1m high-yielding cocoa seedlings each year.
Both companies said they hoped the project would restore environmental productivity, improve farmer livelihoods and empower local communities.
They said demand for cocoa was growing across Asia and it was set to become the second largest consuming region of cocoa ingredients in the world.
And while Indonesia is a key cocoa-producing country in the region, rising temperatures, low yields and crop disease have created difficulties for farmers.
Quentin Roach, SVP supply chain and CPO at Mondelez, said the company intended to leverage the know-how gained from its sustainable sourcing programme, Cocoa Life.
“We’re excited to leverage our know-how in a collaborative approach to sustainable raw material sourcing with a geographically customised solution,” he said.
“Creating opportunities to innovate, in partnership with our suppliers, and exploring the ability to scale high-yielding, forest-positive, income-generating approaches to commercial cocoa farming on the single largest farm of its kind offers attractive potential and is an important step forward.”
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