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May 10, 2009

Cocoa crop improvement center opened in Ivory Coast

Nestlé officials recently inaugurated a new R&D centre in Abidjan in the presence of Ivorian government representatives.

The new R&D centre will focus on improving the quality of locally-sourced raw materials, including cocoa, coffee and cassava, and on adapting products to the nutritional needs and tastes of West African consumers. Better quality crops in West Africa will allow Nestlé to source locally, which in turn will raise the income and the quality of life of local farmers.

The new R&D centre will help Nestlé address the problem of disease and ageing plantations affecting the West African cocoa harvest every year by helping to promote the propagation of millions of high-yielding, disease-resistant cocoa trees across the region over the coming years.

Over the last 30 years, Nestlé has developed advanced technology enabling the mass production of trees with desirable characteristics through somatic embryogenesis. This enables the propagation of high-yielding, disease-resistant plants on a broad scale to rejuvenate cocoa and coffee plantations. This approach, which tends to curtail deforestation as it eliminates the need to expand existing plantations, is already being successfully implemented in different parts of the world.

In Ecuador and Indonesia, Nestlé has provided technical assistance to accelerate the propagation of superior cocoa tree varieties. Since the project started last year, as many as 1.1 million high-yield, disease-resistant cocoa plantlets have been distributed in Indonesia, a figure which should reach 70 million by 2011.

The same approach has been used for coffee. Over the last five years, Nestlé coffee propagation projects in Mexico and Thailand have provided farmers with around 1.5 million high-yielding, disease-resistant plantlets every year, which are expected to cover a total of 10,000 hectares of agricultural land in both countries by 2015.

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