The Mars/ICRAF Vision For Change project aims to achieve several important goals when it comes to sustainable cocoa. We are working to not only revitalize cocoa farms around Soubré and across Côte d’Ivoire to enable higher yields, but we’re also working to improve the quality of cocoa being produced.
It’s not enough to simply produce more cocoa – it has to be of a high enough quality so that manufacturers can use it to make good tasting chocolate. By 2020, Vision For Change aims to reach 150,000 cocoa producers in Soubré – working with farmers to utilize better planting material, increase the supply and use of fertilizer, and help to reduce losses due to pests and diseases. Vision for Change is also working on the crucial post harvest practices necessary to produce good quality cocoa, especially fermentation and drying.
We are part of the Mars Chocolate team in Slough, and we recently spent some time with the ICRAF team working on Vision for Change. The quality improvement work in Vision For Change has begun in earnest, and we worked with the team – training them on sensory practices, the importance of flavour quality and reviewing the implementation of good post harvest practices on cocoa farms.
To engage the Vision For Change team and help them understand the protocol to assess flavour quality, I took them through sensory techniques, and explained how cocoa flavour quality will be assessed in the Vision For Change project. This part of the project aims at monitoring cocoa bean flavour quality from farms throughout the season, comparing project and non-project cocoa.
The Vision for Change team will use this information to encourage farmers to ferment and dry cocoa in the best way, making sure that cocoa quality is as good as it can be.
It’s often a challenge to communicate to farmers the need for good quality cocoa, particularly since the crop is not consumed locally in most cases. With the help of our team, we are trying to make the Vision For Change project different and a success. High productivity and good quality will go hand in hand in our vision for not just more cocoa but better cocoa!