Sambirano is an area in the north west of Madagascar especially known for the production of high quality cacao, also known as the "green gold" of Sambirano. The name refers to the Sambirano Valley as well as the Sambirano River that runs from the foothills of the Tsaratanana Massif into the Ampasindava Bay where it joins with Ramena river, south of Ambanja.
Due to the proximity of the Tsaratanana mountain range and trade winds, a particular micro-climate occurs in the Sambirano region. During the rainy season, the river floods and deposits extremely fertile alluvia along its river banks, providing ideal conditions for many types of crops, especially cacao.
All three varieties of cacao grow along the river banks of Sambirano throughout the year, but with two peak seasons: June/July and October/November. The river is divided in two parts, the upper Sambirano (upstream) and the lower Sambirano (downstream).
Malagasy cacao has special characteristics due to the unique climate and soil along the Sambirano river. The cacao harvest grown in the region can contain around 10% Criollo beans (cacao grown elsewhere typically contain about 5% Criollo). Cacao harvested from Sambirano is especially suited for high quality, low bitterness dark chocolate and is used by premium quality Malagasy chocolate brands such as Chocolaterie Robert and Cinagra and Chocolaterie Colbert.