Asia is the new frontier for cocoa production - one which brings a host of opportunities. The competitiveness of the region’s cocoa industry is driven by the latest techniques and innovation. These include (i) plant breeding (ii) implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) such as pest control and grafting, and (iii) supportive policies and a solid infrastructure.
The Asian cocoa industry developed in the 1980s when plantation businesses in the region applied the latest Good Agricultural Practices to cocoa farming. Since then, smallholders have integrated these productive techniques into their farming practices and Mars has been at the forefront of this.
The Mars Cocoa Clinics initiative introduces farmers to the latest, region-specific techniques to enhance their production capabilities. This has taught farmers how to rehabilitate previously barren cacao trees. Such practices prevent the need to cultivate new land, and therefore improve a farmer’s income whilst also conserving natural resources.
Through such schemes, East Asian farmers are encouraged to adopt cutting-edge technologies and sustainable practices. In this culture of knowledge sharing and investment, smallholder cocoa farming represents both a business opportunity and a sustainable livelihood. By increasing the productivity of their farms and subsequently boosting their income, farmers are able to directly reap the rewards of their commitment.
- Cocoa Pod Borer is an endemic insect pest in Asia that causes annual losses in cocoa production of over $1 billion. The larvae of this moth eat the pulp inside cocoa pods, therefore damaging the seeds. Mars is working to develop Integrated Pest Management methods, including resistant clones, to control this destructive pest.
- In Indonesia, Mars has pioneered a community-driven farmer training program to promote sustainable practices. These methods will lead to higher yields and greater income for the farmers. Specialist trainers currently provide long-term support to over 17,000 local farmers in the country and this number is set to increase.
- Vietnam has ideal agro-ecological conditions to grow cocoa, but the current practice of pumping ground water is not sustainable as water levels are falling. Mars has therefore pioneered the use of water collection in basins, providing water for irrigation and making sustainable production possible.