Barry Callebaut unveils its first Cocoa Horizons Truck – a unique mobile training unit set to reach 10,000 cocoa farmers in the first year
Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, today unveiled a unique addition to its Cocoa Horizons sustainability initiative – the Cocoa Horizons Truck: A multi-purpose mobile unit powered by solar energy, which provides space for farmer training sessions in good agricultural practices, basic health care services, literacy training and child labor sensitization programs. The Cocoa Horizons Truck, built in Belgium, will now be shipped to Côte d’Ivoire where it will travel through the cocoa growing regions as of July. The Cocoa Horizons Truck is a pilot project and part of Barry Callebaut’s plan to significantly step up the impact of its Quality Partner Program (QPP), a cocoa farming program which is an integral part of the company’s 10-year Cocoa Horizons sustainability initiative.
Unique concept to bring farmer training, education and health to remote communities
The team on board the truck will include Barry Callebaut’s own farmer training experts. Depending on the needs of the respective community, a nurse and a teacher will also be on board to provide basic health care, such as vaccination programs and educational services. The Cocoa Horizons Truck will start its journey in San Pedro, a major cocoa growing area in the West of Côte d’Ivoire, gradually moving East. It will visit every village three to four times a year, staying for about one week at a time. Part of the pilot program will be to assess the needs of each community and to adapt the truck’s training program where necessary.
Hervé Beerens, responsible for the Cocoa Horizons Truck project, explained the unique training concept: “As many cocoa farmers cannot read, training will take place in the form of theater sketches, with the truck serving as a stage. This kind of entertaining training format is very effective and will help close the knowledge gaps farmers have in good agricultural practices.”
Team of more than 50 Barry Callebaut employees on the ground, working directly with cocoa farmers
“As part of our Cocoa Horizons activities we already have more than 50 Barry Callebaut employees on the ground in Côte d’Ivoire who are directly working with more than 30,000 farmers,” said Nicholas Camu, Barry Callebaut Group Manager Cocoa Horizons. “However, we need to scale up our activities in order to accelerate our drive towards a more sustainable cocoa sector. We are convinced that a multi-purpose mobile unit such as the Cocoa Horizons Truck is the ideal way of providing support to thousands of additional of cocoa farmers. At the end of the one-year pilot phase we will evaluate the impact of the Cocoa Horizons Truck. If everything works according to plan, we intend to increase the number of trucks successively. We expect to reach up to 10,000 cocoa farmers across Côte d’Ivoire in the first year.”
Barry Callebaut’s commitment to sustainable cocoa:
“Cocoa Horizons” is a CHF 40 million cocoa sustainability initiative, which was launched as part of Barry Callebaut’s decision to make sustainable cocoa one of the four pillars of its corporate strategy. The aim of the program is to further boost farm productivity, increase quality and improve family livelihoods in key cocoa producing countries over 10 years. In fiscal year 2011/2012 alone, the company invested CHF 5 million in farmer training, infrastructure and community education and health programs. Barry Callebaut will focus first on large producer countries including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Cameroon and Brazil, and aims to expand the initiative to other cocoa producing countries with high development potential over the coming years.
One of the landmark projects of Cocoa Horizons is the Quality Partner Program (QPP) through which the key goals of the initiative are implemented on the ground in direct collaboration with cocoa farming cooperatives, agricultural associations and government institutions. The program, which was founded in 2005, helps to train and support cocoa farmers to increase yields and quality and improve their livelihoods through higher income and improved access to education and basic health care. Over 30,000 cocoa farmers have benefited from the Quality Partner Program. www.qualitypartnerprogram.com