Transforming cocoa in Ecuador through precision farming
Quevedo, Los Rios, Ecuador
About the project:
Located in Ecuador's cocoa cluster, the three farms that make up Initiative 20x20 partner 12Tree's Rio Lindo project are mixing sustainability with high yields, social impact, and economic success. Across 638 hectares of land, including 407 ha of cocoa and 119 ha of teak, the fertile soils and the favorable microclimate of this region are key to the high cocoa yields that Rio Lindo is known for.
The farms uses a model that employs a special nutrient mix, intensive pruning, efficient soil management, and ongoing maintenance of the cocoa trees to increase the lifespan of the trees and quality of the crop. Efficient fertigation —providing the right amount of fertilizer through an efficient irrigation system — is the cornerstone of this high productivity, along with mechanized pruning and harvesting. 12Tree’s sustainability principles will be applied to increase ecological and social impact, raising the farms’ overall value by delivering sustainably sourced cocoa. As part of that plan, the company is revamping the waste management system to maximize recycling and is planting trees that restore nitrogen to the soil. To boost biodiversity, native species and fruit trees are planted throughout the farm. Because of its commitment to fair wages and excellent working conditions, 12Tree is also conducting a survey that explores how it can better understand the needs of its 118 workers.
Rio Lindo's cocoa is currently being sold wet in the local market, but 12Tree aims to expand internationally. That means producing and selling dry beans efficiently and with the quality that buyers require. To achieve that goal, the company is constructing a state-of-the-art post-harvesting center and has received UTZ certification for Rio Lindo. Over time, 12Tree also plans to slowly replace the CCN51 cocoa variety that it currently uses with Nacional Arriba, the leading local fine flavor cultivar, to increase its revenue per hectare.