Published 4 years ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Image: Barry Callebaut
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Big data is now helping Barry Callebaut improve its farmer support programs in typically low-tech environments such as cocoa farms.
The chocolate giant partnered with
in 2016 to develop a data management app called Katchilè. The app is now
being used by farm coaches on the ground, enabling them to capture all kinds of
data about the farmers, their financial stability, their farming techniques and
the company’s impacts — in order to help Barry Callebaut design better support
programs to improve farmer livelihoods. It’s also being used to combat child
by capturing data such as the number of children in the family, distance to the
closest school and how many children are enrolled.
We caught up with Nicko Debenham — Barry Callebaut’s VP Head of
Sustainability, based in Zurich; and Savané Massogona — Monitoring and
Evaluation Project Manager, based on the ground in Abidjan, Côte
d'Ivoire, to learn more.
Nicko Debenham: Katchilè enables Barry Callebaut to know our farmers’
reality — their needs, their challenges; at farm and community levels — so that
we can offer them tailor-made solutions on the road to increasing their
livelihoods and helping them to make cocoa farming a profitable and professional
Katchilè is our custom-made, large-scale data collection solution. Barry
Callebaut collects data around economic, agricultural and social parameters —
these data sets then provide us with a full view upon which to recommend Farm
Business Plans containing farm-based interventions, empowering farmers with the
skills, approach and support to lift themselves out of poverty. Additionally,
the data identifies the communities that need the most support in a heat-mapping
system. so that we can target our activities most effectively and efficiently.
Debenham: SAP is the technical solution provider for Katchilè. They
dedicated a team to work on the development of this program, which has since led
to a spin-off of the solution called Rural Sourcing Management, enabling
others to benefit from the cutting-edge technology and scale positive impact
across farming communities.
Debenham: Utilizing this app effectively has helped Barry Callebaut to
change the way we implement sustainability programs at farm level. Instead of
the previous one-size-fits-all approach of sustainability methodologies, we now
have a better understanding of our supply chain and can customize solutions to
what is needed in that region, in that community, and on that farm. This is
exactly the approach we take with Cocoa
Horizons-registered farmers in order to
create impact and self-sustaining farming communities.
Additionally, the app enables us to better support our customers on dedicated
special projects, providing a platform to measure KPIs and ensure their
investments are having the intended impact.
Image credit: Barry Callebaut
Debenham: Indeed, price can help — and this is another reason why
sustainable cocoa is a positive choice, because it pays farmers a cash premium.
One of our Forever
targets is to have 100 percent sustainable cocoa by 2025. In addition, regulated
minimum prices in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are also supporting farmer
income. However, price alone isn’t the answer. The other leverage we have is
focusing on productivity, farm diversification and women’s income
If we significantly increase yield and diversity on farms, and enable more women
to earn an income, cocoa-farming families will earn significantly more, enabling
them to not just cross the poverty line, but to continue their growth into the
We support farmers to increase their productivity and lift themselves out of
poverty. That is why we directly support farmers through investment of a part of
our revenue in education; more sustainable, and higher yielding, production
techniques; as well as financing programs in order to increase yields. We cannot
achieve this by ourselves — we need to work with governments, NGOs, customers
and suppliers to ensure that farmers can earn an equitable income, follow
responsible labor and agricultural practices, safeguard the environment and
provide for the needs of their families.
Savané Massogona: Our farm coaches on the ground in cocoa communities and
the local sustainability managers who manage the coaches are using Katchilé in
the field to complete farmer socio-economic surveys, track cocoa purchases, map
farmers and more. It can be used on mobile devices, which makes it easy to
manage in the field. And we are able to quickly make changes or add surveys from
our offices Abidjan to be updated in real time in the field.
Massogona: The data we collect allows us to know our farmers better, which
in turn allows us to evaluate and respond to their needs better.
Using data from our survey like farm size, age of cocoa trees, or number of
dependents in the household allows us to make recommendations in the form of a
Farm Business Plan that is specifically relevant to that farmer. When we
understand the needs of farmers and communities better, we can more efficiently
target programming towards the areas of greatest need.
Massogona: With Katchilé, we no longer need to use paper for data
collection. This has reduced the time required to get the data to the office for
analysis and the possibility of losing the data collection papers in transit.
Data collection itself is also much faster on a phone app than on paper, saving
our coaches a lot of time so they can focus on working directly with farmers.
Katchilé has also improved data quality. The logic built into the surveys
ensures that the right type of data is entered, which means that we get more
useable data, which leads to more meaningful programming. And importantly, it is
impossible to collect data on a fictitious cocoa farmer, because all surveys
need to be connected to our farmer register.
Massogona: We want to continue adding activities onto Katchilé — like
rolling all training attendance into the app and any additional data collection
on special projects that may not fit into our standard surveys and data
Continuing to build out this platform will help us become more efficient, reach
more farmers and communities, and increase our impact on the ground in order to
enable us to achieve our Forever Chocolate goals.
Published Aug 5, 2019 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.