Cocoa world

Farming
Fermentation
Sun drying
Roasting
Chocolate making

 

From tree to treat
- Cocoa’s journey to Chocolate

The transformation of cocoa into chocolate begins with a tree, the Theobroma Cacao. Grown in humid, tropical climates, the tree begins bearing fruit after about two years. This fruit is the cocoa pod which contains the precious cocoa beans. Harvested manually, these beans are naturally fermented for up to a week and dried in the sun. The journey continues as the beans are then shipped to chocolate producers where they are roasted and ground into cocoa mass. This mass is then mixed with sugar and other ingredients and further refined to develop the aromas loved by chocolate lovers everywhere. Each step of this complex process is critical to ensure a superior tasting chocolate

Chocolate’s bittersweet reality

 

Chocolate’s bittersweet reality

The challenges to meet rising demand for chocolate in consuming markets such as North America, Asia and Europe are daunting. Cocoa is grown on plantations concentrated in a small number of developing countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Production is fragmented among many small family farms whose owners typically earn a subsistence living below the poverty line. The condition of cocoa farmers, the disparities in the distribution of value across the supply chain and the supply-demand imbalance pose significant concerns. The solution requires the involvement of everyone who loves chocolate.

Easing the burden by lifting farmers out of poverty

Easing the burden by lifting farmers out of poverty

Many cocoa farmers and their families still live in extreme poverty with limited access to basic services such as health, education or clean water. The remoteness of some farming communities means that only the most fortunate children can attend school. Others must work alongside their parents and other family members to ensure survival. Only through a more holistic approach, will theses burdens be eased and farmers’ lives improved.

Sustaining livelihoods = A sustainable cocoa supply chain

Sustaining livelihoods
= A sustainable cocoa supply chain

Despite cocoa trees having the potential to produce up to 2000kg of cocoa beans/hectare/year*, cocoa farms are typically small and family-owned with an average productivity of 500kg/hectare/year. Every day, farmers must confront challenges such as pests, diseased trees, poor nutrition, and changes in climate. Many also lack basic training in modern farming techniques and harvest management skills. Combined, these challenges often result in lower prices being paid when they bring their cocoa beans to market. The struggle of cocoa farmers to earn a decent wage is also felt by their children, resulting in many potential next-generation cocoa farmers abandoning farming for other professions.

Tackling imbalances through skills sharing and education

Tackling imbalances through skills sharing and education

Too often cocoa farmers are excluded from sharing in the profits generated across the cocoa supply chain. So stark is this imbalance that the average price of a single chocolate bar sold in a first world country will often exceed what a cocoa farmer earns in a week. For many cocoa farming communities, access to modern techniques and environmental practices that could help farmers increase their yields remains an unattainable dream. The result is that, even as demand for chocolate grows, the ability of farmers to supply enough quality cocoa beans will be threatened.

The reality of cocoa farming in Ivory Coast
The reality of cocoa farming in Ivory Coast
The reality of cocoa farming in Ivory Coast
The reality of cocoa farming in Ivory Coast

Cacao-Trace: The reality of cocoa farming in Ivory Coast

In Ivory Coast, Cocoa farms are typically small and family-owned, with the land often passed from one generation to the next.  In the San Pedro region where Forastero cocoa is grown, the size of Cacao-Trace cocoa farms rarely exceeds three hectares (7,5 acres). Farmers work hard to keep their plantations clean, harvest twice a year, maintain soil fertility and, when needed, prune or replant their cocoa trees. They also grow vegetables and rice for food. Ivorian farmers who have more land often combine cocoa farming with or other cash crops such as rubber.

Cacao-Trace: Life as a cocoa farmer in Vietnam
Cacao-Trace: Life as a cocoa farmer in Vietnam
Man delivering beans in Vietnam
Cacao-Trace: Life as a cocoa farmer in Vietnam

Cacao-Trace: Life as a cocoa farmer in Vietnam

Vietnamese farms often mix cocoa with coconut or local fruits trees such as logan, durian and pomelo. Vietnam’s local cocoa variety, Trinitario, hails from the Mekong delta as well as the Highlands and Lam Dong regions. These regions combine good climate with fertile soils. The fruit is harvested between March to May and then again from October to December. Like other cocoa-producing countries, plantations in Vietnam are small and family owned and require year-round care. In many cases, Vietnamese farmers can supplement their farming income with other work when cocoa is not in season, as their farms are often less remote.

Cacao-Trace: the revival of cocoa in the Philippines

Cacao-Trace: the revival of cocoa in the Philippines 

In the Philippines, it’s believed that cocoa was first introduced by a Spanish mariner around 1670. Since the start of 21st century, it is flourishing once again as promising crop for farmers to diversify their income, in addition to cultivating fruit. On the island of Davao, farmers have on average 5 hectares (12 acres). They plant their cocoa trees in synergy with the ecosystems in place, mainly coconut trees. The cocoa trees are of the trinitario variety, grown in big nurseries, then distributed. After 2 years, the trees are harvested, the cocoa beans are fermented in wooden boxes and dried under the sun following the highest quality standards.