Colombia continues to increase its production of cacao, creating an important opportunity for sustainable economic development in the country. The COLCO project aims to improve the quality and yield of cacao production in Colombia through increased monitoring, certification and localised processing alongside value and supply chains.
In close partnership with Colombian businesses, the Satellite Applications Catapult and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) created a vibrant ecosystem of supply chain, technology, innovation, policy and research, which has identified and developed solutions to enhance the quality of production of cacao from Colombia, unlocking substantial growth potential. The project is supported by the British Embassy in Colombia and funded by Innovate UK and the Newton Fund.
Satellite Applications Catapult has activated satellite technology, to monitor through sensors, imaging and climate data, creating field and region-level monitoring solutions to track and observe the development of cacao.
The MTC has investigated bean fermentation (which accounts for 70% of the flavour profile) and drying processes, both of which are vital to the bean quality. An understanding of bean quality assessment processes has been developed, whilst engaging with technology partners to collect supply chain data for visualisation and traceability.
COLCO has developed and validated a suite of products and services following extensive engagement with representatives across the Colombian cacao value chain.
The services, delivered directly through UK and Colombian partners include:
• Helping farmers to access increased support through in-field training on crop pests and diseases
• Use of climate intelligence to aid farmer decision-making and allocation of inputs to optimise and protect attainable yields
• Manufacturing and implementing innovations that will support farmers during their post-harvest activities, including improved monitoring and control of fermentation and drying
• Utilising computer vision technologies as alternatives to subjective assessments of the produce quality for cacao traders
• An integrated, secure data repository for hosting cacao supply chain data
• A traceability dashboard for visualising collected data to facilitate decision making
The COLCO team have been successful in piloting these services and are exploring commercialisation options. COLCO has supported 350 farms, trained 30 agronomists, joined forces with 14 ecosystem members, delivered 8 system pilots, and developed 7 applications and technologies.