The Virunga region lies at the crossroads of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The area is threatened by ongoing deforestation due to illegal logging and encroaching small-scale agriculture.
Planting cocoa restores land and prevents deforestation. This keeps the Virunga National Park intact and protects the last habitat of the mountain gorillas.
The surcharge we pay for the cocoa is used to give people access to medical care locally. Recently, a university was opened where farmers receive training and guidance in the establishment and management of the plantations, the fermentation and drying of cocoa. This is done through the 'Farmer Field Schools' where knowledge is shared and mutual cooperation is promoted.
Cocoa was introduced by Esco Kivu from Uganda in 2000 to provide a source of income for the people in this area -torn by conflicts and civil wars. Cocoa is one of the few ways to make a safe living.
The soil is fertile and the cocoa plantations are managed organically to maintain soil fertility and plant shade trees.
In Africa, Forastero cocoa trees are the most common: this is a strong variety that seems to have been smuggled from Brazil to Ghana as a gift by a mad captain. The taste of the beans is strong; you taste a pure, uncomplicated chocolate.