For over 15 years, Divine has contributed a percentage of its gross revenue each year into a Producer Support and Development Fund, with which it works with Kuapa Kokoo as well as other Farmer Associations. Divine are now supporting new cocoa origins, one of which is São Tomé and Príncipe. CECAQ-11 will supply organic cocoa for Divine’s first organic range of cocoa bars. The new high cocoa (85%+) range will have five distinct flavours and the following certifications (Fairtrade, organic, vegan and certified non-GMO).
Divine will initially purchase organic cocoa through GEPA The Fairtrade Company, who are already buying from CECAQ-11. Divine’s aim is to develop a long-term partnership with the cooperative and invest in the producer organisation to support its continued growth.
Production has been increasing over the last few years however the cooperative has not been yet reaching projected volumes and therefore hasn’t been able to return more value back to their farmers. The farmers’ yields are still low (250kg per hectare as opposed to a potential yield of 500kg according to cooperative management) and they believe they can do more.
Hortencia Pina, an inspiring female leader, helped to inform the development of the gender section of the project. Hortencia learned to farm the land from an early age and now grows cocoa and pepper and has been proactive in CECAQ-11 since she joined in 2009. Today she also works for the co-op, managing logistics. Hortencia has lobbied to ensure women get their own titles to land and is keen to encourage them to get more involved in the coop.
Twin, with the support of Divine, will support the cooperative in two key areas:
- Sustainable agriculture: CECAQ-11 has requested support for 105 farmers who have not yet received technical assistance to improve production processes and plot productivity. This would include inputs and material for grafting, pruning and shade management, training on soil nutrition and erosion control, and exchange visits for producers, to support the sustainability of the production system.
- Gender programme: the project will focus on land titles and access to resources, including support for alcohol abuse, which was an issue highlighted in the scoping phase. A gender and youth inclusive policy will be developed in participation with the cooperative, and training on this provided.