Consolidating a Cocoa cluster for rural development


Rio Lindo was the name given to three geographically separated cocoa farms, which encompass a total land area of 638 hectares, including 407 ha of cocoa planted with CCN-51 variety as well as 119 ha of teak.

The farms are located in a region that is known as the “cocoa cluster” of Ecuador. The fertile soils and the favourable microclimate in this region are key for the high cocoa yields that are being produced in Rio Lindo, an average of 1.7 tons/Ha.

The high-yield farm-cluster uses an intensive model based on a special nutrient mix, intensive pruning, efficient soil management and ongoing rejuvenation of the cocoa trees, with the goal of increasing the lifespan of the crop. efficient irrigation/fertigation is a cornerstone to this high productivity, as well as mechanized pruning and harvesting. To allow for vehicles such as tractors and pruners to perform these tasks, the roads between the trees rows have been planted wide enough. Rows of trees are planted in a 3x3 patterns with a total density of 1,111 trees/Ha.

12Tree’s sustainability concepts will be applied to increase ecological and social impact, raising the farms’ overall value by delivering sustainably sourced cocoa, which is not the case today. Currently, 12Tree Finance is exploring possibilities to attain UTZ certification.

12Tree Finance plans to migrate some of the bulk cocoa to Nacional (the leading local fine flavour variety) or other fine flavour species over time. This will only happen however, when corresponding offtake agreements with buyers are in place.

At present, cocoa beans are sold wet in the spot market. 12Tree aims at selling directly to chocolate producers after establishing a state-of-the-art post-harvest process. The occasional teak sale occurs with Indian traders.


REGION: Quevedo, Ecuador

SIZE: 638 Ha

MANPOWER: 125 in 2018 to 111 in 2020



RAINFALL: mm/year

ALTITUDE: 50 - 155 masl

SOIL: Mostly flat and ondulating slopes

APPROACH: (integrated farming, conservation agriculture, regenerative and diverse farming)


  • Smart irrigation

  • Precision agriculture

  • Monitoring


Juan Jaramillo,

Carlos Escobar,