Empowering cocoa growers in Tanzania

Published: 30-May-2017

Barry Callebaut’s recently launched “Forever Chocolate” sustainability strategy aims to lift more than 500,000 farmers out of poverty by 2025

An initiative in Tanzania is bringing together cocoa farmers with people from local communities to improve the distribution of cocoa seedlings and enhance livelihoods.

The programme is part of Barry Callebaut’s sustainability strategy “Forever Chocolate” and is driven by its direct sourcing organisation, Biolands, in cooperation with KIM’s Chocolates.

Improving access to cocoa seedlings and providing agricultural training are two key priorities at Biolands. The organisation works closely with farmers to improve cocoa quality and yields, as well as farmer livelihoods.

As part of a joint initiative with Belgian chocolate maker KIM’s Chocolates that began in Tanzania in 2016, Biolands has pledged to distribute at least 100,000 cocoa seedlings per year. For the 2016-17 season, the distribution of 140,000 seedlings is planned, depending on the demand from farmers.

In Tanzania, Biolands has four nurseries across the Kyela and Busokelo districts where cocoa seedlings are nurtured before being delivered to the cocoa farms for planting.

However, some cocoa farmers live in remote areas and do not necessarily have the means to travel to the nurseries. That is why at Biolands seedlings are not only supplied on site at the nurseries but are also brought directly to farms in the region.

Sharing knowledge

To extend its distribution network, Biolands is involving people from local communities, such as 32-year-old Joyce Iponja (pictured), who has trained as a senior assistant at Biolands’ nursery in Kyela and now belongs to a dedicated team that visits farmers.

The team supplies seedlings from the nursery and shares valuable knowledge on how to plant and care for the seedlings, covering aspects such as spacing, shade and irrigation.

Most of the distributors come from local farming communities and families in Kyela, and they have been working in Biolands nurseries for a number of years. Their participation in the seedling distribution programme provides them with an additional source of income.

As the distribution team aims to reach out to cocoa farms in areas that cannot be reached by car, a wheeled handcart has been constructed at Biolands to facilitate this process.

The cart can transport up to 200 young plants at a time and is helping to improve access to cocoa seedlings, particularly for elderly farmers who are less mobile.

Tackling farmer poverty

Limited access to planting materials, poor farming practices and ageing trees are among the main challenges that need to be overcome to increase cocoa farmers’ income.

This represents one pillar of Barry Callebaut’s recently launched “Forever Chocolate” sustainability strategy, with the goal of lifting more than 500,000 farmers out of poverty by 2025. The seedling distribution programme in Tanzania forms part of this strategy.

You may also like