Cocoa Touches Our Hearts
Last month we traveled to Ghana, the second largest cocoa producer in the world. Starbucks is a member of the World Cocoa Foundation, an organization that promotes a sustainable cocoa economy by providing cocoa farmers with the tools they need to grow more and better cocoa, market it successfully, and earn greater profits.
On the first day of our trip, we visited a cocoa community located about four hours east of Accra, the country’s capital. This community has benefited from training and technical assistance provided by the Cocoa Livelihoods Program, a joint effort between the cocoa industry (including Starbucks) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support about 200,000 farmers in five West and Central African countries.
The farmers in this community share essential resources like water wells, education, cocoa drying tables and a warehouse to store the beans before delivery. Gathering crops from many farmers allows the community to reach scale and gain efficiencies.
We were introduced to the chief, elders and other community members during a ceremony in which we expressed our gratitude for welcoming us and for showing us the community’s cocoa farming practices. They were very eager to share and learn and to become better farmers.
Women play a prominent role in this community. Not only do they participate in all cocoa farming activities, but they are also teachers, farm owners, mothers, cooks, and administrators. Under a matriarchal system, the land is owned by women and is passed down to women in future generations.
In too many of our own communities, despite abundant resources and education, we find it difficult and complex to collaborate. For this community in Ghana, collaboration is spontaneous and natural. Everyone approaches tasks with contagious smiles, and everything is accomplished in ways that are highly efficient, simple and coordinated. This is a lesson that we all should learn. We hope cocoa warms your heart this holiday season, like it touches ours all year round. As you sip your favorite mocha beverage or enjoy our Holiday Cocoa Trio, take a moment to reflect upon the people behind the cocoa.