When the cocoa fruits on the trees slowly ripen and the beans sprout, it’s harvesting time. This usually begins in October and goes until March – but not everywhere. Depending on the country, the main harvesting seasons differ. While in Ghana the harvest time ended in March, in Madagascar it only just started in May and ends in July.
But this is not the only difference between the various origin countries. The challenges and thus the support provided by the Farming Program also vary from country to country. For this reason, the individual needs of the countries are identified, and help is provided accordingly.
The origins of our cocoa beans
Cocoa beans are the heart of our chocolate. Knowing which of the many different origins of cocoa beans will best contribute to the distinctive taste of a product is a skill that we have perfected over time. Lindt & Sprüngli currently sources its high-quality cocoa beans from five countries, all of which are part of the Farming Program: Ghana, Ecuador, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and the Dominican Republic. Two further countries will soon join the Farming Program – stay tuned!
- Part of the Farming Program since: 2008
- Number of farmers in the Program: 69,101
- Number of local field staff: 484
- Main harvesting season: October - April
- Good to know: With Ghana, the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program was launched in 2008. The West African country is the second largest cocoa producer in the world – almost 20 percent of all cocoa is from Ghana. For Lindt & Sprüngli, Ghana is the largest supplier and the only origin country from which we source consumer cocoa (Forastero). Thanks to its high fat content and low breakage, the cocoa is known for its high quality. Farmers in Ghana also receive comprehensive support. For example, they are given theoretical and practical trainings on agricultural methods, important environmental aspects, but also social and financial topics. The Farming Program also helps the farmers to rehabilitate their farms – since the start of the Program, more than 4.5 million cocoa seedlings have been distributed.
- Part of the Farming Program since: 2014
- Number of farmers in the Program: 8,634
- Number of local field staff: 35
- Main harvesting season: North: November - February / South: September - December
- Good to know: Ecuador is known for its fine flavor cocoa – the South American country is responsible for two-thirds of the global production of fine flavor cocoa. However, the tree population of many farms is overaged or not sufficiently irrigated. For this reason, the Farming Program is committed to the support and preservation of the fine flavor cocoa variety. So far, farmers have been supplied with almost 800,000 disease-resistant and high-yielding seedlings. To further promote the cultivation of fine flavor cocoa, incentives are provided in the form of non-cash premiums, such as new cultivation tools. Last but not least, agroforestry also plays an important role in Ecuador. As part of the Farming Program, farmers are introduced into dynamic agroforestry systems and are made aware of the need to preserve areas of high conservation value. Furthermore, the farmers expand their sources of income through additional agricultural practices – here, mainly through beekeeping and pig breeding.
- Part of the Farming Program since: 2015
- Number of farmers in the Program: 2,388
- Number of local field staff: 15
- Main harvesting season: May - July
- Good to know: In Madagascar, farmers usually only have a small area of less than one hectare available for cultivation. Additionally, the trees are often over 20 years old – a major challenge for farmers. The Farming Program supports them with subsidized cocoa seedlings and the planting of shade trees. The farmers also learn organic farming practices and how to control pests without the use of chemicals. Another focus of the Farming Program in Madagascar is the access to potable water for the many villagers. In a partnership with Helvetas Switzerland, three solar-powered water systems have been established on the island off the southeast coast of Africa. Since this cocoa season, farmers have also been supported in the area of diversification – the extension income sources – and are being trained in the cultivation of ginger and vanilla, the breeding of small livestock and production of honey.
Papua New Guinea
- Part of the Farming Program since: 2017
- Number of farmers in the Program: 4,301
- Number of local field staff: 20
- Main harvesting season: April - August
- Good to know: In Papua New Guinea, the Farming Program is very comprehensive. The farmers are trained in six basic modules ranging from agricultural practices and the protection of natural resources to social issues such as gender equality and health topics like HIV/Aids. On around 44 model farms, agricultural methods are demonstrated and tools provided. Furthermore, farmers learn basic financial skills and the access to banks is increasingly encouraged – especially for women. In terms of infrastructure, investments are being made primarily in water supply and education. Through the support of the Farming Program, villages gain access to potable water and renovated schools.
The Dominican Republic
- Part of the Farming Program since: 2018
- Number of farmers in the Program: 823
- Number of local field staff: 4
- Main harvesting season: April – July
- Good to know: In the Dominican Republic, the cultivation of cocoa is the most important income source besides coffee for small farmers. Because of this, it is all the more important that farmers are supported and trained accordingly. To increase their revenues and income, farmers participate in a comprehensive training program including eight modules. Additionally, agricultural practices are professionalized, and the rejuvenation and rehabilitation of plantations is encouraged. For this purpose, working groups have been created in the Dominican Republic, where farmers work collaboratively. In addition, farmers in the Caribbean country receive financial incentives in the form of bonuses if they successfully implement what they have been taught.