Chocolate and cocoa supplier Barry Callebaut is to launch a joint project with vanilla extracts and flavours supplier Prova to launch a new project in Madagascar.

The aim of the project is to diversify and stabilise the revenues of vanilla farmers through the introduction of cocoa farming, as well as increasing the levels of vanilla curing at farm level.

The initiative will also support the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and is designed to improve the livelihoods of vanilla farmers located in the district of Bemvenika in the Sava region, the main vanilla growing area in Madagascar.

The project will be supported with consulting and financing by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative.

Alessandra Ognibene-Lerouvillois, chief sustainability officer at Prova, said: “We are excited to embark on this journey with Barry Callebaut. Together we will initiate the cultivation of cocoa. Our objective is to enable the planters to become stakeholders in their own development, take hold of these projects and ensure their long-term sustainability.”

Oliver van Hagen, sustainability manager global sourcing at Barry Callebaut, added: “We are very happy to partner with Prova on this exception project. Vanilla is a key ingredient for us when making chocolate and this project will support farmers in being prepared for a less favourable future vanilla market. It also helps us, as a company, securing a significant amount of our vanilla needs from a sustainable source.”

With around 80,000 vanilla producers, Madagascar is by far the most important producer of vanilla globally. Prova has been a vanilla supplier to Barry Callebaut for many years and both companies support the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative (SVI), a platform to promote sustainable production and sourcing in natural vanilla, while improving the social and environmental conditions of smallholder farmers.

Barry Callebaut recently extended its chocolate supply partnership with Mondelēz.