Even the Sweetest Chocolate Can Be Eco-friendly
When you're biting into a smooth piece of dark chocolate it's hard to think about anything else. What might not know, however, are the many global issues related to cocoa cultivation and production. Just where did the cocoa in that piece of chocolate come from? And what about the conditions for the farmers who grow it? Cocoa cultivation has a long, and not always pleasant, history.
The story of cocoa grown in Ghana is a compelling one. Traditional cocoa cultivation can be detrimental to the environment as vital forests are cut down to make room for crop cultivation. In Ghana, a crown jewel of biodiversity, about 1.3 percent of the country’s remaining forests are lost each year to unsustainably grown cocoa.
In response, a group of Ghana cocoa farmers founded "Kuapo Kokoo" – or, the "Good Cocoa Farmers Company" in the local Twi language – in 1992. It was the first Fair Trade cooperative in Ghana. By using biological pest control, replanting trees, and refraining from chemical spraying, Kuapo Kokoo helps protect the Earth while producing high-quality cocoa.
As part of an effort to ensure the success of Kuapo Kokoo and to guarantee a market for its cocoa, CI’s Verde Ventures partnered with Day Chocolate (now known as Divine Chocolate) in 2001, making an initial investment of $250,000. The money ensured that Kuapo Kokoo's cocoa was used in Divine Chocolate’s products and proved that cocoa could be sustainably grown. And Kuapo Kokoo members also became shareholders in Day Chocolate; a first for any Fair Trade organization.
The results are in, and Divine Chocolate increased its sales in the UK by 2,000 percent. Its now also available in stores across the United States. Kuapo Kokoo uses responsible production methods and grows delicious cocoa while earning a fairer price. And the Kakum Conservation Area in Ghana is healthier due to sustainable cocoa cultivation.
When local communities, nature, and consumers can all benefit from smart land use, the results can be ... well, very sweet.
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