Callebaut Cote D'Ivoire
One of Barry Calleabaut's facilities in Cote D'Ivoire. The cocoa producer recently broke ground on its Center for Cocoa Excellence in Pacobo, Cote D'Ivoire. Photo courtesy of Barry Callebaut.

Barry Callebaut’s latest ingredient list includes cocoa, plantain, coconut, mango, pineapple, beans, maize and … rubber. The company is hoping it will be a recipe for better farming in Cote D’Ivoire.

The crops are part of a list of things slated to be planted at its new 30-hectare (74 acres) “showcase farm,” which will demonstrate and test intercropping, the process of growing more than one crop in one area to increase productivity and biodiversity.

The showcase farm is just one aspect of Barry Callebaut’s new Center of Cocoa Excellence in Pacobo, Cote D’Ivoire, which the Zurich-based cocoa and chocolate producer broke ground for last Friday.

The $1.05 million (CHF 1 million) center is expected to be fully operational with the start of the cocoa season in October, and it will provide cocoa farmers from 20 different cooperatives training in techniques to augment cocoa production.

In addition to the farm, the center will also contain a classroom building, nurseries for cocoa and shade trees and drying and fermentation facilities.

While its main goals are to boost natural diversity and cocoa yields, the cocoa and chocolate processing company says the mix of crops also will allow farmers a more varied diet and additional sources of income.

Planting and testing began in June, and the company expects to plant 10 of the 30 hectares this year.

"This effort reflects the importance of promoting biodiversity — planting other food crops and shade trees in addition to cocoa — on smallholder farms," explains Anke Massart, project leader of Cocoa Horizons in Côte d'Ivoire. "An abundant variety of plants and trees simulates the natural diversity found in the rainforest and results in a healthy ecosystem. This, in turn, means more productive cocoa trees."  

Barry Callebaut — the leading manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products — operates 40 facilities in 27 countries. Known for its brands Callebaut and Cacao Barry, the company posted $5 billion (CHF 4.6 billion) in annual sales last year.