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Endemic lemurs, majestic baobabs, pristine rainforests, vast deserts, almost 5,000 km of coastline bordering the Indian Ocean... These are just a few reasons to visit Madagascar. This fourth biggest island in the world, located 400 km from the coast of Mozambique, is home to extraordinary rich biodiversity. There is another good reason to visit this beautiful island: exceptional cocoa! When a French colonist planted the first cocoa trees back in 1822, he could not have guessed Malagasy cocoa would become world famous. It is a unique cocoa, very rare indeed – only 0.1% of world cocoa production comes from Madagascar –, and immediately recognizable by its fruity flavours. Sambirano cocoa grows in the northwest of Madagascar. Trade winds and the proximity of a mountain range create a specific microclimate in the valley of the Sambirano River. During the rainy season, the river floods and deposits fertile soil along the riverbanks. The combination of climate and soil provide ideal conditions for cocoa cultivation. 

Sambirano cocoa sourced by Silva Cacao is organic certified; no pesticides and only natural fertilizers are used in its production. Cocoa trees grow under the canopy of indigenous shade trees together with mango, banana, vanilla, pineapple, peppers and other crops. Sustainable agroforestry systems like these create a buffer zone protecting Sambirano’s natural rainforests. This is much needed;

over 40% of Madagascar’s forests have disappeared over the last 60 years and the remaining forests are highly fragmented. Deforestation and soil erosion are major threats, reducing the ability of farmers to produce enough food. With the help of the Rainforest Alliance cocoa farmers in the Sambirano Valley plant new trees to battle soil erosion, protect remaining forest fragments and restore the natural landscape of the valley. 

Sambirano cocoa has a beautiful flavour profile with medium acidity, fruity flavours with berries and cherries, delicate notes of jasmine and vanilla, and a fresh hint of citrus bloom in the aftertaste. Over the years cocoa trees have adapted to the Malagasy climate and soil, resulting in unique hybrids of criollo, trinitario and forastero. The wet beans of the smallholder farmers are fermented (5 to 6 days in 3-tiered wooden boxes) and sun-dried in local centres according to strict protocols. After manual screening and sorting the beans are packed in 60 kg jute bags and transported to the port of Toamasina. From there the beans travel to chocolate makers all over the world, keen to explore the unique identity of Sambirano organic cocoa. 

Smallholder cocoa farmers in the Sambirano Valley could not benefit optimally from their famous cocoa until Union de Coopérative Lazan’ny Sambirano (UCLS) started a comprehensive programme regarding organic farming, selection of planting materials, and post-harvesting techniques for fermentation and drying. Bean quality increased considerably, making the export of the cocoa for premium prices possible! UCLS is an umbrella organisation for 23 primary cooperatives with about 410 farmer members. Farmers are shareholders in their cooperative and UCLS, guaranteeing that they benefit directly and maximally from added value in the supply chain and pre-financing. Thanks to the joint efforts Sambirano cocoa is certified organic and fair trade SSP (small proceeds program) Silva Cacao partners with UCLS to share the tasty Sambirano cocoa with chocolate makers with a passion for flavour and wish to support Sambinaro’s smallholder farmers, whose life has changed drastically for the better. 

UCLS and the cooperatives focus on further improvement of cocoa quality and on capacity building to ensure structural support of its farmer members. The Social Development Goals of the United Nations also known as Global Goals, are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. By sourcing Madagascar Sambirano organic we help to address the following global challenges: 


Region: Sambirano Valley, Northwest Madagascar
Organisation: Umbrella organisation uniting 23 cooperatives
Area: 600 ha


Variety: Criollo, trinitario and forastero adapted to the Malagasy climate
Flavour: Medium acidity, dominantly dried fruits and red fruits flavours, notes of jasmine and vanilla, and sweet chocolate with citrus bloom in the aftertaste.
Fermentation: 5 to 6 days in 3-tiered wooden boxes
Drying: Sun-dried
Harvest: October - November, May - June 


EU organic certification, Small Producer Programme (SPP) certification 

Supply Chain

100% traceable supply chain. Farmers sell wet beans to their cooperatives, where they are centrally fermented, dried and packed in 65 kg jute bags. UCLS facilitates quality control and export from the port of Toamasina. 


About 410 smallholder farmers are shareholders in cooperatives and UCLS, and benefit directly from knowledge-sharing, training, pre-financing, marketing and higher prices for premium beans. UCLS also implemented a water project, giving farmers access to clean drinking water. 

Forest & Nature

Cocoa grows under shade trees in an agroforestry system. Together with Rainforest Alliance and other NGOs farmers plant trees to battle soil erosion and restore natural forest landscape.