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Visit to cocoa farmers Congo

Living Income, our farmers, Chocolate, Cacao origins, Chocolatemakers, Bean-to-bar


November 22nd, 2017

Last month, Rodney visited cocoa farmers and our partner cooperative Esco-Kivu in Congo. In North Kivu near the Virunga National Park to be exact, just near the border with Uganda. Why this visit? Because we like working directly with the farmers so we can see for ourselves how they and the cocoa plantations are doing. And because it's nice and warm there right now, of course.

Congo, cocoa & gorillas
From the cocoa from Congo we make our
Gorilla bars. In fact, from this cocoa we made our very first bar as Chocolatemakers! Esco-Kivu started a project in 2008 to promote organic cocoa in the Virunga area, in order to provide local residents with income. As a result, they no longer have to cut down wood in the gorillas' habitat, or go poaching. This keeps the gorillas' habitat protected. The initiative started very small at the time but many farmers have since joined.

Positive impact
During Rodney's visit, it was special to see how cocoa is having a positive impact on the lives of people in Congo. An area ravaged by civil war not so long ago. The cocoa is helping the people there to organize themselves into cooperatives, making them work more together and increasing mutual trust.

Our partner cooperative Esco-Kivu is also doing a lot of good work. They contribute to the hospitals in the area, to the reconstruction of churches and they have just started building a university in the area.

Working conditions on the plantations
The quality of the cocoa is visibly improving due to the good approach of the farmers when it comes to fermenting and drying the cocoa. Something than is certainly not obvious!

Furthermore, we have a reasonably good picture of the conditions on cocoa plantations in Congo, but we would like to map this even better. To be sure that things are fair throughout the chain, that farmers earn a "Living Income", but also to be able to contribute to sustainable production and to further improve quality. Therefore, we have discussed with Esco-Kivu how we can do this and we will raise funds next year to realize this.

In the end, we all strive for a chocolate sector that makes everyone happy including the farmers. To be continued!

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