Michael is traveling through Ghana, searching for high quality, sustainable beans grown by great people! Read through below to see the start of his sourcing adventure!
We woke up to a beautiful view in Accra with a rising sun and the close heat that let us know it would be a warm day. This is the dry season but they said the rains are coming earlier every year now as the climate changes. It’s high 90 with a chance of rain every day.
Accra is a quick moving capital full of ongoing construction and embassy areas. But we weren’t staying for long! The day’s destination was Suhum, about an hour drive away from Accra, with our new friends a ABOCFA.
We met with Stephen, the GM of ABOCFA, and the board elected from the set farmers to run the COOP.
ABOCFA is made up of about 700 member farmers and was organized about 10 years ago around a principal of being the FIRST IN AFRICA organization to be certified both organic and fair-trade in cocoa.
In addition, they regularly monitor to assure no slave and child labor is being used. There should be a distinction made about child labor—if it’s a family farm and the children work as part of their family chores, and not denied access to school in order to work, it’s fine. I grew up working on a farm. As long as the right clothing and equipment is used and the tasks are appropriate for the child’s size and abilities, there’s no problem.
Frankly, this is one of the reasons that I was hesitant to buy cacao from West Africa—assuring labor conditions for children. Through working with ABOCFA, we can understand their philosophy and how they are working with farmers to promote only practices that are good for these communities and the earth.
To start our inaugural meeting, we shared coconuts cut that morning, light sweet water and soft coconut flesh. Later, we had bananas that tasted like cloves and cardamom.
I brought some of our Ecuador bars, which the farmers enjoyed! They usually don’t like dark chocolate because they usually only have high sugar chocolate, when they were able to have it. As a former British colony, most people speak English, more or less, in addition to a variety of local languages (Twi is most common around Suhum). We still need an interpretation often, but everyone is very friendly and patient with us.
After talking about price and quantities that would be possible to export (more on export details later!), we had to head to see the Chief of the hamlets included in ABOCFA in order to ask for permission to visit farms. I’ll cover that in the next update!