Yes, we at Simply Chocolate are always emphasizing that we are a Danish company—but we will never be able to grow the cocoa, up here in the Northern hemisphere. That’s why the cocoa beans that become our chocolate are grown in The Ivory Coast in Western Africa. And we believe that a certain responsibility goes with producing in that part of the world.
Just as our local, Copenhagen-based employees work on fair terms, we wish to ensure that the cocoa farmers, their families and the local communities surrounding the cocoa fields thrive and have the opportunity to better their lives. It’s both part of the solution to ensure a future chocolate production and a natural approach for Simply Chocolate. We don’t want to produce and sell chocolate with an aftertaste of underpayment of human beings and exploitation of nature.
This is the reason we’re part of Cocoa Horizons, a non-profit organization initiated by Belgian chocolate producer Barry Callebaut. Cocoa Horizons works to improve the livelihood for cocoa farmers and the local communities.
They do this through different strategies; in part by introducing sustainable and innovative farming methods, in part by increasing productivity and partly through developing local communities.
In detail, Cocoa Horizons educate farmers in ways to improve their work, e.g. through new materials, new techniques and innovative financing solutions. To reduce the CO2 emission, farmers are learning to prune cocoa trees instead of burning, working with a more dense plantation and the sowing of different types of trees on the farms.
At the same time, Cocoa Horizons are working closely with the farming communities to make it easier for children and youths to get an education, supporting the work to protect children and to give women better opportunities to develop while also ensuring access to clean water and basic health services. E.g., today 49% of all children between 5 and 17 years in the local communities are enrolled in school, and we are working to increase the number. Why? Because education is at the heart of many solutions to ensure ‘our’ cocoa families a great future—and great chocolate for you.
In a greenhouse in a cocoa village near San Pédro in The Ivory Coast, a group of local women are growing vegetables and fruit. But they are also growing a new future. In addition to ensuring the women a more stable income, the produce is served as lunch in the local school, making sure the children get a good meal and more energy for their education. The greenhouse project is one of the many ways Simply Chocolate—and you—are giving back to the cocoa farmers and their families.
In Africa it’s mostly men growing the cocoa beans that we at Simply Chocolate use and if the village lives on the cocoa production alone, it makes families very vulnerable. We’re going to change that. In alliance with Cocoa Horizons we have initiated an experimental greenhouse project where local women grow fruit and vegetables, ensuring families a second source of income.
That’s why a brand-new 70 square meter greenhouse is now standing on the sandy African soil. Inside, red tomatoes and dark-purple aubergines are growing.
The project is relatively new but the plants in the greenhouse are already sprouting. However, the idea isn’t for the village’s families to eat all the vegetables. The produce serve two purposes; firstly they are meant to supply the local women a second source of income besides the cocoa beans, secondly they are to ensure better nutrition in the local school.
The greenhouse project is run by the local women who have all received training in making the production run smoothly. They have learnt about growing and maintaining plants, seasonal plants, bookkeeping, trade and development of new markets. In this way the project also ensure a new independence for the women, carving out a more significant role in the villages—an important step towards a better future for African nations.
Not all vegetables are sold. Part of the fresh produce are delivered to the kitchen in the local school. Here they’ll supply students with a great meal, resulting in long-lasting energy fit for a long day in front of the blackboard, a long-term way to increasing the level of education amongst the village children.
Next time you’re biting into one of Simply Chocolate’s bars you’ll know where some of the money you paid are going, and we truly believe it makes the chocolate taste even better.