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Delivering Change for Cacao in Colombia through a cross-Catapult collaboration

Since 2018 the Satellite Applications Catapult has been working with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult) on a project to transform the way farmers produce cacao in Colombia.

tons of cacao produced in Colombia
family incomes depend on cacao farming
of cacao production lost due to pest and disease
of cacao quality derived from fermentation process

COLCO has been a wonderful project and I am pleased to have had a leadership role to deliver the MTC’s outputs. I have found that the collaboration with the Satellite Applications Catapult has worked really well, where our respective capabilities have complemented each other to provide leadership, oversight, strategy, and governance of a complex and ambitious programme of activities. I hope that the Catapult Network use COLCO as an example of how cross-Catapult collaboration can be realised, as well as leveraging learning from the project to deliver programmes with a similar vision around socio-economic impact and sustainability in the future.

Dr Maz Ahmad
Technology Manager, MTC

Transforming the Colombian cacao supply chain to deliver socioeconomic impact and a sustainable sector

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.