Cargill has entered into a multi-year agreement with vertical farming company AeroFarms to build a more sustainable and climate-resilient cocoa sector.
According to the company, the two firms will explore different indoor growing methods, including “aeroponics and hydroponics, light, carbon dioxide, irrigation, nutrition, plant space and pruning”, to distinguish the best conditions for cocoa tree growth.
The findings will present new data, focusing on factors such as faster tree development and better yields, accelerated growth of varieties with improved pests and disease resistance, as well as releasing the full flavour and colour potential of the cocoa bean.
Cargill Cocoa Europe’s managing director, Niels Boetje, said: “Environmental challenges and growing demand for cocoa products are placing increased pressure on the global cocoa supply chain”.
“Through partnerships with research institutes, universities and innovative companies like AeroFarms, we are collaborating across sectors in bold experiments to bring greater productivity and resiliency to traditional cocoa farming operations.
“We look forward to sharing our findings with the farmer cooperatives in our cocoa supply chain to help ensure a thriving cocoa sector for generations to come.”
The initial exploratory work has already started at AeroFarms international headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, United States. The research will eventually expand to the business’ “state-of-art” indoor vertical farm AeroFarms AgX in Abu Dhabi, UAE, which is expected to open in the first quarter of 2022.
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