The sun is directly above us as ‘‘Rain’ shoves an inquisitive nose in our direction. Rain is one of seven dogs that roam on Victor‘s small farm of 10 hectares between a forest of cocoa trees. As a member of a cooperative that sells its cocoa beans to UNOCACE, an organization supported by Oikocredit, Victor helps Germans satisfy their insatiable craving for chocolate.
Proud of his work, the experienced small-scale farmer takes us on a tour through the green jungle of his plantation. The diversity– in front of my eyes would brighten any nature lover’s heart. In addition to cocoa beans, Victor also grows mangos, bananas, yucca, and balsa wood. This diversity keeps Victor from worrying about not having enough cocoa beans to sell or having a meagre harvest. Thanks to UNOCACE, this worry is unfounded. By making use of specific educational offers on organic cocoa farming and by purchasing high quality saplings, Victor was able to double his production over the last seven years, from 6 to 12 metric hundredweights per hectare. UNOCACE also ensures that Victor’s harvest ends up on our supermarket shelves. And under conditions that make the chocolate taste particularly sweet.
To start with, Victor receives a fair price for his cocoa beans. That means that he has a good and secure income, even if the world market price for cocoa is on a downward trend. Also, Victor and the other 54 members of the co-op were able to use the Fair Trade premium to purchase new equipment for fermenting the cocoa beans. This enables them to satisfy even the most discerning of overseas buyers (for example the German chocolate manufacturer Rausch).
As we make our way back to Victor’s house at the heart of his plantation, a family of 15 ducks and chickens cross our path. They provide Victor and his family with fresh eggs every day. Once we reach the house, Victor’s wife Bienvenida Perfecta (in English: the perfect welcome) offers us a taste of her cooking. As I bite into the cocoa fruit, my mouth explodes with a chocolatey hint of lychee, blended with a slight note of fresh mint. By now, I am utterly convinced of both the quality of the UNOCACE saplings and the positive aftertaste that Oikocredit has left in the life of Victor and his family.
Written by: Tim Pauls
Tim Pauls is a volunteer Member of the Board in the Lower Saxony/Bremen Oikocredit support society. After completing his degree in agricultural science in Göttingen, he spent time in Latin America, Asia, and Africa promoting global justice and sustainable development. Tim Pauls currently spends his time teaching at a vocational school, where he brings introduces young people to concepts of sustainable living and doing business.
Study Tour 2016 blogs were originally posted to the Oikocredit Germany website.