CAMEROON – Barry Callebaut, a global chocolate and cocoa products manufacturer, and Cameroon have signed a letter of intent to intensify the cooperation on sustainable cocoa farming in the country.

The chocolate manufacturer will particularly focus on the New Generation program initiated by the Cameroon Cocoa and Coffee Interprofessional Council (CICC) that seeks to support young famers investments in the cocoa value chain.

The program seeks to support the next generation of cocoa farmers by establishing access to family farm plots, training, inputs, financing and equipment acquisition.

In addition, the signatories will also work towards enhancing cocoa farmer income diversification programs, by promoting, next to cocoa farming, the cultivation of other agricultural products and the marketing of these products.

This is expected to improve cocoa volumes through sharing productivity best practices.

The CICC initiated the program with an aim of eliminating barriers that currently detour many young Cameroonians from continually investing in cocoa farming.

The Next Generation program seeks to establish Centres of Excellence for post-harvest treatment, as well as the systematization of good agriculture and post-harvest practices. 

Antoine de Saint-Affrique, chief executive officer at Barry Callebaut said that the support will accelerate efforts towards sustainable cocoa farming.

“By combining the expertise and resources on the ground from the CICC and Barry Callebaut we want to accelerate the progress towards a sustainable cocoa farming sector, in order for cocoa farming to remain an attractive professional future for young Cameroonians,” he said.

The partnership further strengthens the multinational’s commitment in increasing investments as it gears up to consolidate its presence in the region.

Barry Callebaut has also rolled out a five-year US$55.29 million investment plan that aims at expanding the firm’s cocoa bean processing capacity in Côte d’Ivoire by over 40% by the year 2022.

Early this year, the company said it has raised US$523.34 million to help the firm in financing select sustainability projects as part of its plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025.

“The sustainability character of the transaction underscores our commitment to our Forever Chocolate initiative, i.e. our plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025​,” said Remco Steenbergen, chief financial officer of the Barry Callebaut Group.