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ALFA CACAO : A chocolate factory

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ALFA CACAO : A chocolate factory

ALFA CACAO : A chocolate factory coming soon to the DIANA region

The company SAMBIRANO S.A. has laid the first stone for what will be a chocolate factory in the DIANA region. This first step represents a small stride for the chocolate maker but a significant leap for the inhabitants of the region, who are avid suppliers of this cash crop.

Founded by Philippe Mena over ten years ago, SAMBIRANO S.A. is a chocolate and confectionery craftsman operating in the cocoa sector in Madagascar. Until now, the Swiss investor has collaborated with more than 1000 « cocoa farmers » in the Sambirano Valley. These farmers source about 15 % of the quality cocoa exported from the Big Island.

While the head of SAMBIRANO SA has maintained only a supplier/reseller relationship with residents, he has now taken the initiative to establish himself in Ambalakatakata, a district of Ambanja, as part of the Alfa cacao project. An infrastructure covering 1200m2, intended to transform cocoa into cocoa juice or chocolate bars. Although the cocoa from the region is already globally recognized, the Alfa cacao market is intended for both the Big Island and the international market. The project aims to resonate even more Malagasy echoes worldwide, with Switzerland being the primary target, as actions are primarily focused on Bern. But initially, the businessman wants to enhance the value of the Sambirano cocoa farmers by supporting their products and allowing Malagasy people to enjoy the flavor of their famous cocoa. « The initial idea was about continuing SAMBIRANO SA, which includes fifteen hundred peasants within its ranks. We have been in the ‘cocoa trading’ field for twelve years, and at a certain stage, trading is not enough. So, it was necessary to take an additional step to transform cocoa. Hence the birth of this project », Philippe Mena confided to Midi Madagasikara during an interview. However, this entrepreneur’s ambition continues beyond there. He plans to transform as many cocoa beans from the region into chocolate as possible, aiming to process 100 tons of cocoa annually, extendable to 1000 as long as the figures remain positive for the company.

Madagascar already enjoys the title of « top cocoa exporter in Africa » in terms of quality. Although the quantity is around 15,000 tons annually, Madagascar won the « 100% fine cocoa » label in 2022 at the third edition of the international competition for the world’s best cocoa. The majority of this cash crop comes from the 30,000 farmers of the Sambirano valley, who work tirelessly to supply mainly European customers such as major chocolate houses, including Valrhona, Camille Bloch, and Migros. With ambition like that of Philippe Mena, Madagascar could one day line up alongside these titans of the chocolate industry.

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