I recently had the rare opportunity to visit one of such cocoa farms in Ghana and this is my short experience: The journey starts with a 45 minute domestic flight from Accra to Kumasi, followed by a 2 hour drive into the cocoa farming districts, mainly found in the Ashanti, Western, and Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana.
As we drove deeper into the Tepa farming district, you start to see the bright yellow pods of hope gleaming in the sunshine dotting the tree line on both sides of the road. Our first stop took us right into one of the cocoa farms where, under the shades of the trees, a Business School Class was about to start. This was being run by the Lindt & Sprüngli Farming Program, aimed at equipping the cocoa farmers with the skills necessary to manage their farms, businesses, and proceeds.
I was very impressed by the passion with which the farmers responded to the instructor’s questions and the seriousness they attached to this study session. After their hour-long session I was introduced to the farmers by the team and after a short introduction I showed them a surprise that I had brought along for them, a box of the finest Lindt Chocolates. A product of their sweat and toil, and a true testament of our dedication to giving back to our community. They smiled with joy as the box was passed around for them to pick pieces of chocolate. Their comments of how smooth and delicious the chocolate was warmed my heart.
Next, I was taken to visit an Integrated Soil Fertility Management demonstration farm where the owner of the farm and the Technical Officer demonstrated their farm activities. This was where the team took time to add value to the farming practices of the farmers by teaching them the benefits of soil management and the proper use of techniques to grow and multiply their produce and output.
I was really impressed, as was the farmer, by the yield of the Lindt Demonstration farm compared with the normal farm that these farmers were used to. Together, there was a sense of community towards the program and how well they were developing their social and agricultural structures. It was great to see and also very encouraging when you compare what is happening there to other farming communities that I have seen in the past.
The final part of the visit ended at the district warehouse where the warehouse manager took me through the steps of transporting the cocoa beans from the assembly point on the farm, to the district warehouse, then on to the port, and off to the Lindt production sites. At every step of the consolidation and transportation process, quality checks were being carried out. Tags and barcodes were being used to ensure direct tractability of every single bag of cocoa right down to the farm where it was produced. I must say that is level of detail affirmed our quality standard on every pack of chocolate we produce.
All in all, it was an exciting day in the field with an amazing team and the passion of the farmers who put their backs into making sure that every bean of cocoa used in producing our chocolates is of the finest quality and highest grade.