1. Rent: The local chiefs will earn rent for use of the land.
2. Salaries: the village will gain daily from increased salaries
3. Sales profit: assuming 8,000 pieces sold at 1 cent each profit, $80.
This project will fulfill the Three Goals of the Peace Corps Mission:
1. Host Country Improvement
This project will improve Cameroon by providing the equipment and experience to make chocolate a local product rather than one enjoyed by people oversees. By building local cottage industry and local economy, the world is linked through chocolate.
2. Volunteer Happiness
Peace Corps volunteers will be able to work with Cameroonian, European, and American university students along with villagers to find ways to build a new industry: local chocolate production.
3. Sharing Experience: students and Peace Corps volunteers returning from their experience in the cocoa study center can bring a feeling of hope, showing what can be accomplished when people share goals.
One of the greatest impediments in international development is cultural resistance. It’s easy to dig a well, it’s easy to deliver tools. It is not easy to change how people think.
In West Africa, the average village maintains commercial links with locally used foodstuffs such as rice, yams, and palm oil. With cocoa, the village remains disconnected with how cocoa is made into chocolate and then sold. A cocoa study center would help farmers think of their commodity as part of a value chain, this time, a local value chain, the end result of which they themselves consume and sell.
INTERNATIONAL COCOA MARKET
There is increasing recognition that the quality of cocoa depends on the training of the farmer. Quoting from the International Cocoa Organization:
In 1998, CAOBISCO expressed deep concerns over the deterioration in the physical quality of cocoa beans supplied to the industry. The Association had observed that farmers were not consistently harvesting, fermenting and drying their cocoa in line with recommended practices. CAOBISCO considered that this was due to farmers’ lack of knowledge of best agronomic practices and to inefficient supply chains in producing countries. (ICCO, 2007)
A number of non-profits associated with the cocoa industry have become involved in finding ways to make the West African cocoa farmer more efficient and more profitable. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, supported by the World Cocoa Foundation, have run Farmers’ Field Schools (FFS) in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. To quote from Esi Miriama, a 38-year-old mother and FFS participant living in the Eastern Region of Ghana:
Even though I am a cocoa farmer with a 5-acre farm, I do not know much about pests or diseases on cocoa and how to control them. I have to be serious in what I am learning because I have seen a positive change on my farm since I began applying the skills… (STCP, 2010)
Another very refreshing approach is that of TCHO, Inc., of San Francisco. It developed, in combination with small-scale chocolate production machinery and a solar-powered laptop, a village laboratory where villagers can make chocolate, taste it, analyze it across four dimensions, and enter their results into a spreadsheet. The result is an increased appreciation for the role of genetics, horticultural methods, fermentation, and drying.
Mirroring similar processes used for sampling premium coffee, the Flavor Lab system uses a small roaster and computer modeling to enable cooperatives to develop consistent bean roasting profiles, and document the specific environmental conditions and post harvest processing used in each batch of cocoa. (Land O’ Lakes, 2011).
This project will take training to a new level by including not just the first three steps of the value chain (growing, harvesting, processing) but taking the farmer all the way to the completed product. This kind of knowledge and experience will add an appreciation of the final product and the subtleties and exigencies associated with quality production.
This is a win-win situation: a win for the farmer, who transitions from mere grower to middleman, to processor, to packager, and to salesperson. It is a win for the chocolate industry because the farmer knows so much more and has a reason to produce products of superior quality.