Boom times for organic cocoa in Ivory Coast


Organic cocoa farming in M’Brimbo, a village in central Ivory Coast, is prospering

Cocoa farmers throughout Ivory Coast, the world’s greatest producer of the important thing ingredient for chocolate, are down in the dumps after costs for their commodity have fallen for the second yr operating.

Not so in M’Brimbo, a village in central Ivory Coast which 11 years in the past grew to become a testing floor for organic cocoa farming and in the present day is prospering.

The native farmers’ collective, the Fair Cooperative Society of Bandama (SCEB), promote their high-quality produce at twice the market price for non-organic cocoa.

“When producers are trained and well-paid, they can make very good cocoa in Ivory Coast,” stated Arthur Gautier, an agronomist who works for Ethiquable, a French firm that specialises in advertising fair-trade merchandise and buys SCEB’s harvest.

The chocolate produced from their cocoa is offered in French supermarkets underneath the model “Grand Cru M’Brimbo,” a reputation that resonates with advantageous wines—”Grand Cru” means “vintage.”

Cocoa rising was massively promoted by Ivory Coast’s authorities following independence in 1960, turning into the spine of the nation’s rise as certainly one of West Africa’s main economies. Today, Ivory Coast produces two million tonnes of cocoa per yr, equal to greater than 40 % of the world’s market.

But growth has additionally come at a grim value for the surroundings and fuelled a dependency that ratchets up rural poverty at any time when costs hunch.

Workers weigh cocoa bags at the warehouse of the local farmers' collective in M'brimbo
Workers weigh cocoa baggage on the warehouse of the native farmers’ collective in M’brimbo

Around 90 % of Ivory Coast’s forests have been destroyed, stripping away habitat for elephants and different species, and in some locations herbicides and pesticides have lastingly tainted the soil.

Using methods pioneered in Latin America, SCEB farmers weed their fields manually and have developed particular strategies to dry and ferment cocoa beans, serving to to develop the chocolate’s signature wealthy style.


Monitoring and certifying the method and guaranteeing traceability, proper right down to the person bag of cocoa, have been key to successful the arrogance of customers who’re keen to pay extra for a product that has high quality and moral values.

Ethiquable claims to promote 1 / 4 of the organic chocolate offered in French supermarkets. Organic chocolate accounts for simply eight % of the nationwide market, however is rising at 18 % per yr.

“Doing bio is harder, it requires more work and you need more labour,” stated Solo Bony, a member of the cooperative. “But at the end of the day, you get a better return.”

Ethiquable pays the SCEB 1,850 CFA francs (2.82 euros) per kilogram, of which 1,350 francs goes to the producer, which compares with the present official value for non-organic cocoa of 750 francs per kilo—a benchmark that in any case just isn’t at all times revered.

Farming organic cocoa is harder work than conventional cultivation but offers better returns
Farming organic cocoa is more durable work than standard cultivation however gives higher returns

Another boon is that this value is assured for a three-year interval—a welcome reassurance in contrast with the rollercoaster standard market.

The “organic” label gives increased rewards than “fair trade” certification, issued for round 10 % of Ivory Coast’s manufacturing, which is for cocoa that meets environmental requirements and doesn’t contain little one labour.

An rising fear in Ivory Coast is concerning the well being impression from farmers who use standard chemical substances to fertilise the soil and kill pests.

The cooperative’s farmers are testing safer formulation produced from residues derived from locally-grown vegetation.

Farmers in the cooperative additionally get coaching in sustainable methods —- planting cocoa timber in the shade of larger timber reasonably than in the open, diversifying crops by planting fruit timber and by sowing legume vegetation, which take nitrogen out of the air and repair it into the soil, thus growing its fertility naturally.

“A plantation of cocoa trees drawn from older varieties, grown organically and using sustainable farming, provides better-quality cocoa and higher yields, and produce over a timescale of 50 years compared to 20 years for a conventional plantation,” stated Gautier.

Farmers carry bags of organic cocoa beans at the collective.
Farmers carry baggage of organic cocoa beans on the collective.


The cooperative’s president, Evariste Salo, attested personally to the expansion in wealth.

“I used to have a bicycle, now I’ve got a motorbike. I have been able to put my kids through school and build a house.”

By manner of comparability, in accordance with the World Bank, greater than half of the 5 to 6 million folks in Ivory Coast who stay on cocoa subsist under the poverty line.

The cooperative produced 13 tonnes of cocoa with 33 farmers in 2010, and this yr is predicted to supply greater than 200 tonnes, with 264 growers.

It now has six workers and has simply constructed a brand new headquarters and warehouse with a storage capability of 300 tonnes, and is pushing forward with a laboratory to check cocoa high quality. It has additionally funded a rural clinic and a faculty, and supplies monetary assist for faculty charges and medical payments.

Ten different cooperatives in Ivory Coast now produce organic cocoa and others are anticipated to observe them. But their manufacturing is more likely to stay a fraction of the nation’s standard output for a very long time to return.

Windfall for growers as ICoast posts document cocoa harvest

© 2021 AFP

Boom times for organic cocoa in Ivory Coast (2021, May 16)
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