Mondelēz International and Olam Food Ingredients (OFI) have partnered to create what they claim will be the world’s largest sustainable commercial cocoa farm.
The 2,000-hectare farm on the island of Seram in Maluku province, Indonesia, will aim to provide a ‘model of the future’ to improve cocoa farmer livelihoods and restore environmental productivity.
The partnership sees Olam International enter into a 50:50 joint venture with Mondelēz – which is acting through Kraft Foods North America and Asia – through the subscription of a 50% interest in AztecAgri for $10.8 million.
The joint project will test a modernised and scalable approach to commercial cocoa production, including optimal land usage and farming community planning.
The farm will incorporate ‘climate smart’ and plant science technology, such as sensors in fields, and will be explored as a potential model for replication across the region.
The project aims to tackle problems such as rising temperatures, low yields and crop disease, faced by farmers in Indonesia, by drawing on the two companies’ experience in cocoa growing and sustainable farm management.
With the partnership, Mondelēz and OFI plan to create 700 jobs for local residents, nearly half of which will go to women, while also making various provisions for their employees in areas including health and education.
2,000 hectares of previously deforested brownfield land will be planted with cocoa, shade trees, forest and fruit trees in order to promote biodiversity and carbon capture, with an additional 1,080 hectares having already been planted. The collaboration also aims to create a seedling nursery that can grow up to 1 million high-yielding cocoa seedlings each year.
Quentin Roach, SVP supply chain and chief procurement officer at Mondelēz International, 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 on our journey to lead the future of a sustainable and resilient cocoa supply.
“This initiative sits alongside Mondelēz International’s existing Cocoa Life programme in Indonesia and our cocoa crop science technical centre in Pasuruan, established to support sustainable cocoa farming practices and drive positive change for farmers and communities in the region.”
Gerard A. Manley, CEO of OFI’s Cocoa business, said: “Ever since we launched our first sustainability programme in the country more than 16 years ago, we have been committed to supporting Indonesian cocoa farmers while also protecting the environment.”
He added: “Having just announced the achievement of our 2020 sustainability goals, we believe this partnership is a further significant step towards our Cocoa Compass ambition to have a positive impact on the future of cocoa.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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