You do know that chocolate really does grow on trees, right? Nope, I’m not selling Willy Wonka dreams here, my friends. The cocoa beans used to make your favourite chocolate grows on cacao trees – with more than 70% of the world’s cocoa grown by farmers in West Africa. (See why I love living in Africa?)
A few days ago we had the opportunity to sit down with Yaa Peprah Amekudzi, the inspirational Head of Cocoa Life Ghana, who explained that most of the cocoa farms, in West Africa, are family-owned. And, unfortunately, due to things like climate change, disease and lack of access to new farming methods, many of those farmers have seen their yields dwindling over the last few years.
Good Cocoa, Good Chocolate
Because of this, Cadbury has stepped up to the plate (the chocolate plate?), establishing the Cocoa Life Programme in 2012, which serves to improve the lives of farmers who are doing the important job of growing those “chocolate trees”. (my chocoholic pals – hollar!)
The Cocoa Life Programme directly contributes to sustainable farming and responsible sourcing, reaching more than 40,000 cocoa farmers in 450 communities across 17 districts in five regions of Ghana’s cocoa belt!
This means: the programme basically invests in community development, strengthening cocoa communities and inspiring the next generation of cocoa farmers. I love this so much!
“Essentially, the aim of Cocoa Life is to ensure the cocoa that goes into Cadbury products is ‘made right’,” says Yaa.
“Making it right means tackling the complex challenges that cocoa farmers face by working hand-in-hand with the men and women who make their living from cocoa, focusing on where we can make a difference to transform the cocoa sector by inspiring lasting change, rooted in deep understanding, sector-wide collaboration and partnerships.”
According to Yaa, the programme touches on seven focus areas namely; child protection, community, environment, farming, livelihoods, women empowerment and youth development.
It also trains almost 150 000 farmers to grow cocoa more effectively. I mean, this includes so many things from identifying crop diseases to managing the soil and using chemicals responsibly. The new farming technology that these communities are introduced to helps to improve productivity and profitability.
And you guys, it doesn’t end there. Cocoa Life also helps to provide female farm workers with the opportunity to set up small businesses, extending initiatives to microfinance schemes, village savings and loans.
To you it may be a delicious slab of chocolate. But to so many families, it is a source of income and when the cocoa season is on hold, these families need to find other ways to sustain their livelihood.
So next time you pick up a slab of chocolate, check for the Cocoa Life stamp, which will be on all Cadbury Dairy Milk slabs from July 2019. And then give yourself a pat on the back for supporting farmers on our continent by simply purchasing product made from their farm yields.
More information about Cocoa Life and their initiatives around the world can be found on their website, www.cocoalife.com.
More about Yaa Peprah Amekudzi
Yaa Peprah Amekudzi has been the country lead of Cocoa Life since its establishment 10 years ago when it was then known as the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership, forging strategic partnerships with government and non-governmental agencies to deliver the objectives of Cocoa Life. Starting with 100 communities in 7 districts, Yaa has expanded Cocoa Life to cover 450 communities in 17 districts within a period of 10 years, directly impacting 38,421 cocoa farmers and 415,464 community members of which 224,301 are young persons.
All the photos in this post were taken at the Mondelez International Cocoa Life Programme Bloggers Lunch, at No. 5 by Mantis, Summerstrand Port Elizabeth. The event was hosted by ECMeetUp. Photographer: Odette Johaar Photography
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by ECMeetUp