Cacao consultancy Zoto collaborates for venture with Swedish climate tech firm Improvin’

Belgian specialty cacao consultancy Zoto is working with the Swedish climate tech company Improvin’ to explore ways to drive sustainable impact in the cacao value chain.

The project marks a first-of-its-kind effort to gather primary data from the cacao farmers in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and use the data to improve the transparency and sustainability of the specialty cacao value chain.

As Confectionery Production has previously covered, cacao value chain is battling several environmental challenges, including nutrient-depleted soils, ageing trees, poor water management, and excess use of fertilisers. In addition, most cacao farmers are smallholders in remote areas, struggling to make ends meet, which raises social issues.

Simultaneously, the demand for better value chain transparency, traceability and sustainability is rising, driven by increased consumer awareness and stricter sustainability reporting regulations, particularly in the EU.

“The cacao value chain is complex and scattered, involving small farms and many middlemen across geographies, which has historically made traceability nearly impossible,” says Zoi Papalexandratou, the co-founder of Zoto (pictured below).



“Together with Improvin’, we aim to explore ways to improve the transparency and measure the environmental impact of the cacao value chain by making a tangible impact for underserved farmers and their communities”, she continues.

Zoto and Improvin’ will explore ways to gather agroforestry primary data from the farmers regarding the soil and the cacao trees, such as tree diversity and locations, as well as farming practices, like the use of water and fertilizers.

“The work with Improvin’ will be a first-of-its-kind effort to make a tangible difference in the value chain traceability and help the cacao farmers in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo using real data from their farms”, Zoi Papalexandratou continues.

Since most farms are in remote areas, the project will use satellite imagery and offline reporting to ensure high-quality primary data. Using Improvin’s technology and data from the farms, the two companies aim to quantify the greenhouse gas emissions of the sourced cacao and find ways to improve its traceability on a batch-specific basis as well as suggest tailored climate-driven solutions for improved cacao farming.

“To this day, there have been few efforts to use primary data to improve cacao value chain traceability and sustainability. We are excited to work with Zoto in this pioneering effort to explore scalable frameworks, standards and ways of working that have the potential to drive significant impact in this field,” says Niklas Wallsargård, CEO of Improvin’.

The project is carried out in collaboration with the international NGO Trias and their local representatives, Native Group of Companies, and funded by the Flemish International Climate Action Programme (Vlaams Internationaal Klimaatactieprogramma). The beneficiaries of the projects are Bwamba Cooperative Union (Bundibugyo District, Uganda) and COOPEBAS (Mai Ndombe, DRC).

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