Cocoa Contract Farming

Cocoa Contract Farming

We brought cocoa to Cambodia in 2014. It was the first time in history that cocoa was planted on a commercial base. Many things went wrong. We were inexperienced. Despite the professional help from Mars Sustainable in Vietnam, we were still struggling. And we were threatened by severe droughts in 2015 and almost gave up. But thanks to the efforts of our very loyal staff and employees, we held on and after a re-planting program, we saw the first results. You can’t believe how happy we were when we could pick the first full-grown cocoa pods. It filled our hearts with joy and pride: the first Cambodian cocoa beans!

Now we want to bring Cambodian cocoa to the next level: we want to introduce it to other farmers in a contract-farming program. If you are a farmer or in the possession of farmland in Cambodia, then this article is especially for you.

Climate And Conditions

The climate of Cambodia is close to ideal for growing cocoa. In our neighboring countries Thailand, Malaysia and – since the 2000’s – Vietnam, cocoa is already a success. There are two main conditions when it comes to your farmland and the weather: the Ph of your soil, and the availability of water in the dry season.

Ph is a sure thing: ideally, your soil needs a Ph between 6 and 7. If it’s below this level, you can add on lime, but when your Ph is quite low, it can cost you a small fortune to add enough lime.

Water is the other essential for your cocoa, and we experienced this first hand. We’ve been there: not having enough water sources to irrigate your land, is a direct “license to kill your plants”. To avoid future water problems, either your land is located close to a river that never dries up in the dry season, or you have the guaranteed possibility to drill for groundwater.

Why Our Cocoa Contract-Farming Will Benefit You?

Now let’s move on to your advantages as a farmer to start growing cocoa on a contract-farm base:

* Guaranteed market. We will guarantee to buy the cocoa from you, as long as you deliver the good quality (but we help you with this with our monthly visits to your farm); and you guarantee us to sell all your cocoa to us. This guaranteed gives you a peace of mind and the comfort to focus on what you are good at: farming. At the moment there is no domestic market for cocoa. Everything needs to be exported. With our contract-farming, you don’t have to go through all the hassle and costs of exporting your cocoa to foreign, overseas customers.

* price. We guarantee you to buy the cocoa from you for 90% of the world (London) cocoa price of that day. In the chapter about pricing, we will explain more.

* Every month one of our cocoa specialists will visit your farm to guide and assist you with your farming decisions. This is completely free of charge. You will have first-hand access to our cutting-edge production knowledge. It is in both our interest that you not only will reach a high yield per hectare but also a high, consistent and organic quality of the cocoa.

* We stimulate you to intercrop the cocoa trees with other fruit trees like banana (needed in the first one and half years for shadow purposes), mango, avocado, jackfruit or durian trees. Intercropping helps you battling uninvited and unpleasant guests like insects and fungi in a natural way. We can’t allow you to use chemical pesticides, but intercropping with fruit trees and even better a few Neem trees definitely will help you in an efficient, natural way. And on top of this all: you gain an extra (small) income from the harvest of the fruit trees.

* We keep the price of the cocoa seedlings very reasonable. We also understand that you will have a lot of expenses in the first year (land clearance, maybe irrigation system), so we also have a possibility that you pay the seedlings during the course of three years with a modest interest (check below)

A few Rules On Our Cocoa Contract-Farming

* Once you reach the moment that you can harvest, you can choose what to do: either ferment the wet cocoa beans from the cocoa pods yourself and transport those to the central Kamkav location in Sre Ampom, Mondulkiri (15 minutes from Sen Monorom) or bring the cocoa pods over there. Just keep in mind that a cocoa pod is over 10 times heavier than dried cocoa beans.

We advise you not to ferment yourself because fermenting in itself is quite labor-intensive and requests quite some skill. The fermenting process is crucial and influences the taste of the bean tremendously. It cost you time (6 days fermenting and 9-20 days of drying), and a small investment for ferment boxes and a drying station. By the way: 100 kg of cocoa pods will result in approximately 9 kg of dried, fermented cocoa beans.

* You have to arrange the transport to bring the cocoa beans or the cocoa pods to the central Kamkav location in Sre Ampom to receive your money.

* You are not allowed to sell the cocoa to third buyers, but why should you anyway? We are convinced that we can give you the best price and also a very honest and transparent price (see the chapter ‘ price for your cocoa beans’ )

* we advise you to start small with one till maximum five hectares. Our amount of seedlings is limited and we give a preference to small-scale farmers. The main reason is that small-scale farmers can give more attention to their cocoa trees and can learn the skills on a smaller scale before they expand.

The Price For Seedlings

*We charge you a very reasonable price per cocoa seedling of $0,78. This price is including the transport to your farm, as long as your farm is located in Mondulkiri. For farms outside Mondulkiri, we have to charge an additional fee. We grow the seedlings in our own nursery for 8 months before we sell them. This means that you can plant already 8 months old trees and that it will take an average 2.5 years before you can start harvesting for the first time. Our seedlings are also purely organic, and not exposed to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This also means that our seedlings are stronger and healthier than the average seedling you can buy elsewhere.

* We understand that you have many expenses, especially in the first year. Therefore we also made a possibility for you to pay the seedlings during a period of three years, including a very modest interest: At the moment you order the seedlings, you pay $0.31. After exactly one year you pay an additional $0.29; and again after one year you pay for the last time: $0.28

The Price For Your Cocoa Beans

We will pay 90% of the world cocoa price of the day, you sell your beans to us. This world price is based on fermented, dry beans. You can check this world price yourself on the internet. There are several websites that publish this price. To name a few:

– Index Mundi

– Ycharts

This makes the price for you very transparent: There is of course always a risk that the price will go down. But there is a much bigger chance that the price will go up, three years after you start with cocoa. Just keep in mind that the cocoa price at the moment is at quite low levels (around $2.65 at the time of writing), but for instance, a research by the University of Ghent showed an expectancy of $14 per kilo by the year of 2026. Why they come up with this prediction? Because there is hardly ever an oversupply of cocoa on the world market, plus the fact that the total world consumption of chocolate (the end product of cocoa) is growing year by year (from 2015 to 2018 the consumption went up with almost 6% to 7.7 million tons)


We will have everything prepared for this new adventure in cocoa contract-farming by November 2018. We can sign the first contracts in December 2018. But especially this year we only have a limited amount of seedlings available for farmers to plant. If you are one of the farmers with whom we will start a cooperation that will benefit us both, you can start preparing and clearing your land between January and April 2019; You can start planting the banana trees, to create the necessary shadow in March and April, and start planting the cocoa and the other fruit trees in June.

We hope that this information will help you more in deciding if you want to start with cocoa on your farm. If you have further questions, please email us in Khmer or English on, or visit other parts of our website

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