Growing high-value cocoa in Ecuador for the world's top chocolate makers
Quevedo, Cotopaxi, Ecuador
About the project:
Born from Ecuador's Cotopaxi volcano, the fertile and moist soils in the country's Guayas basin are ideal for growing high-quality cocoa like the local Arriba variety, a rare, fine cultivar that more productive varieties are displacing. On two 17-year-old plantations, Haciendas Limón and Guantupí, Initiative 20x20 partner 12Tree is revitalizing 260 hectares of this unique high-value crop.
12Tree is now investing in these unique plantations by introducing corrective pruning, active pest and disease management, a new state-of-the-art drip irrigation system, and organic fertilizers to maximize the potential of this special variety first bred by Ecuador's INIAP (National Institute of Agricultural Research). The company is also building a brand new post-harvesting center that preserves and processes the cocoa to extend its shelf life.
The farms' products are of the highest possible quality and correspond to chocolate makers' most demanding criteria. Cocoa beans from Guantupí and Limon are certified Heirloom Cacao and have won international awards, including a Good Food Award, an International Chocolate Salon award, various awards from the Academy of Chocolate, and the a Great Taste Award.
The company has plans to scale up its ambitions by hiring significantly more field workers to boost the number of employees from 24 to 46, obtaining UTZ certification for both farms and organic certification for Limón within 3 years, and creating an outgrower program that equips smallholder farmers with the ability to supply more high-quality cocoa to the growing global market.