The production of chocolate with respect for nature and humans
Do you want to rediscover the authentic taste of cocoa? Do you want to eat a healthy product, straight from the producer at a reasonable price? Then this project could be of great interest to you.
It all started in 2007 with love at first sight. Because we lived in Switzerland, the «chocolate country»and owned agricultural land in Cameroon (4th world cocoa producer at the time), it seemed obvious to us to embark on the adventure of chocolate!
The cocoa adventure started in July 2011. The ultimate goal is to create jobs in rural areas in western Cameroon and to work in full integration with local populations. Serges had a lot of contact with the village chiefs, thus we were able to move forward serenely.
Plantation sites are not chosen randomly. Each land has its specificity:
- In the Sanki Valley in western Cameroon, the volcanic soil is very fertile for crops in general. Under this hot and humid climate, this earth rich in mineral salts, such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, selenium, promotes breeding and agriculture.
- In the central region, in Ayos, the red earth is very rich in iron. It is characterized by good drainage and good permeability which particularly favors the cultivation of cocoa for example.
We started planting the first trees in April 2012, surrounded by a certified agronomist to grow the trees. Since all funds come from our personal resources, we had to find solutions so that the field auto-finances to the maximum. At first, a well was dug at the edge of the field for the irrigation of the plantations. In order to properly grind cocoa land, we built a farm with 200 pigs, fed by the farm’s maize crops, to use their droppings as a fertilizer.
We also planted plantain bananas in the middle of the cacao trees. The roots of the banana tree get filled with water, which allows continuous irrigation for cocoa trees. In addition, the large leaves of the banana tree make it possible to provide shade to cocoa trees during the dry season and their leaves are then used for the fermentation of the beans in order to stay closer to the traditional skill.
After a great fright with the cattle of the Fulani people who passed very close to the plantations, we decided to plant fruit trees all around to create a natural barrier. This renders it possible to limit access to plantations, to prevent cattle from crossing by stomping everything in their path, to limit the theft of pods (it’s easier to eat mangoes than pods) and to feed the employees when they have to stay in the field for several days in a row.
In 2016-2017: it’s the first harvest!
We explored international sales channels. Many intermediaries master this market. However, Cameroon has a deficit of recognition on the quality of its cocoa, hence these intermediaries do not know how to value our product of quality. As a result, the idea of creating our own chocolate became obvious: be independent of all intermediaries to offer a quality product directly from the producer. With the help of friends, we start to create our own chocolate bars in a traditional way. Faced with so positive feedback from our entourage and renowned professionals, we decided to professionalize the making of our products.
STATE OF MIND
From the beginning, it was clear to us that this project is more than just a business, it is above all a win-win human adventure.
For years, we have been working to professionalize the staff around the cultivation of exceptional cocoa. In order to unite reliable and loyal teams, we invested in the idea of bringing comfort to the daily life of the villagers:
- Enable women from neighboring villages to use the wells, rather than traveling tens of kilometers to reach a water point.
- Make the fruit trees surrounding the fields available to improve the food resources
Behind these anecdotal stories that may seem trivial, it is important to understand that the project’s philosophy is that the quality of life of employees will have a major impact on the quality of their work.
Distribute through the Cocoa Valley brand an exceptional chocolate produced without an intermediary from the tree to the chocolate bar (Farm To Bar).
The BEAN TO BAR process consists of eight machines which, through successive operations, makes it possible to go from beans to chocolate or to the finished product.
The chain of machines selected has already been tested with the supplier «life size» with beans from our plantation in Cameroon. BEAN TO BAR is the preferred method of production for all great chocolatiers who produce their own chocolate (Pierre Marcolini for example).
Where major brands face challenges with supply, quality and durability, Cocoa Valley guarantees unrivaled production stability as the only owner-gatherer-processor. It is this competitive advantage that initiated the diversion of the expression «BEAN TO BAR» into «FARM TO BAR».
Our project is to reproduce wine codes, the concept of land, harvest and assembly of various cultivated beans.
What will your support contribute to?
The current funding is aimed at creating the place of transformation so that we can create chocolate as a finished product and thus be able to market it without any intermediary. The production will be done by ourselves, sponsored by renowned chocolatiers.
Everything today supports us in our idea that the passion that transpires from our project, combined with our strong experience and the humanist aspect of the project will be the major assets of our success. We sincerely hope that these few lines will have allowed you to feel it as well and make you want to voluntarily join us in this project.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT