The Lomana cocoa co-operative is formed of 200 smallholder farmers, 160 of which now successfully deploy Barry Callebaut's quality-enhancing technique, known as the controlled fermentation harvesting process. This novel approach to fermentation boosts flavour precursors in the cocoa beans, producing a new chocolate range that has almost no defects or ‘off ‘ flavours, the result of which means more plentiful harvests and a better income for cocoa growers.
Providing training, income and a future
One such farmer in the co-operative is Agnes Koudio. She has a cocoa farm of about two hectares, which she inherited from her late husband. Agnes tends to her cocoa farm with six members of her family to generate a family income. Being trained to use this special fermentation technique means Agnes and the other farmers learn how to master consistent quality and flavour, ensuring higher yields and a better price for their cocoa beans. With her newly acquired skills, Agnes can earn an additional 40 West African CFA francs (US$0.08) for every bag she supplies.
Barry Callebaut’s controlled fermentation harvesting process is also the first step for these farmers towards Rainforest Alliance certification. Being Rainforest Alliance certified gives buyers, such as Unilever, confidence that the cocoa is produced sustainably and allows the farmers to charge a higher premium for their produce. Unilever’s Procurement Manager, Perpetua George, visited the co-operative and was impressed with its diversity, saying “it was fantastic to see women so involved in the programme. I can really see potential with this programme as Barry Callebaut takes it wider in the future.”
Engaging with smallholder farmers and distributors
Unilever partners with Barry Callebaut to achieve its Sustainable Living Plan commitment to source all cocoa for its Magnum ice cream sustainably by 2015. All other cocoa will be sourced sustainably by 2020.
As part of Unilever’s wider plan, we will engage with at least 500,000 smallholder farmers, producing a wide range of crops from tea to tomatoes to cocoa, as well as the 75,000 small-scale distributors that form part of Unilever’s supply network, to help them gain sustainable accreditations.
You can read more about Unilever’s sustainable sourcing targets and plan to help secure better livelihoods for its suppliers on Unilever.com.