November 11

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Cocoa story

Hi everyone!

As part of my project for UNICEF, I’m looking for new private donors to support UNICEF programmes, and partners to ensure and support the respect of Child’s Rights. We indeed believe that the private sector is a key actor to help communities by reducing their vulnerability and fostering their resilience, increasingly exposed to climate change impacts, droughts, cyclones, etc…

An example to illustrate this approach – let’s take the value chain of chocolate. Many plantations of cocoa in the north of Madagascar work with collectors, who work with exporters and then traders. At the beginning of this supply chain, there are communities of farmers and at the end, famous chocolate producers. In this example, by oversimplifying, Unicef Office aims to help local communities by advocating  with the local chocolate companies about the respect and support of child’s rights, and to develop a partnership with the multinational to fund and support Unicef programmes in the field for these communities.

In August, during one of our ‘traditional’ Friday afterwork in Tana, I spoke with an American businessman working for a chocolate and vanilla company. We discussed about my project for Unicef and the vision of his company, which works directly with farmers on the ground and develops a sustainable cocoa and vanilla market – a bottoms-up approach to improve farmer income. So interesting that…few weeks later, here I am, in the bush, visiting cocoa plantation with farmers, agro engineer and peace corps volunteer, near Ambanja -(in the north of Madagascar). Amazing experience on various aspects!!!

 

First, we flew from Tana to Nosy Be and then took a boat to reach the port near Ambanja. Nosy be is a beautiful island, with turquoise water sea (the “other” Madagascar I was talking about in my previous post), amazing smaller islands around, but unfortunately, I saw how the sexual tourism is still a big issue there…Unicef works on this in collaboration with the Minister of Tourism and hotels, but there is still a lot of work to do to change behaviors!

We spent two days in Ambanja, small town strangled by pousse-pousses, tuk-tuk, and taxis-brousse, where people seems to be more smiling and friendly than in Tana. Then, we visited cocoa plantations, ate fruits (jack fruit) with children from the village, and met people as big collectors in this region committed to helping the local community (buy bikes for employees to go to work, build a bridge, schools, etc…).

 

This visit was also the opportunity to understand the production of cocoa: harvest, 2 steps of fermentation to make a high quality cocoa (as a former fermentation supervisor, very interesting!), drying step, quality control, ECOCERT certification, etc…

4 intense  days which give even more sense to my mission for UNICEF !!!

Until the next time…