Region: Eastern Region
Number of Farmers: 924
Partner Since: 2018
Cacao Tasting Notes: Fudge brownie, light notes of lemon, green oolong
The women and men of the ABOCFA Farmers Association are pioneers of sustainable cacao production in Ghana. Founded in 2008 with 350 members, ABOCFA became the country’s first farmer group with both Organic and Fair Trade certifications. Under the guidance of a 7-member, democratically-elected Executive Committee and an experienced agronomist and business manager named Stephen Ashia, ABOCFA has nearly doubled its membership to include 924 cacao growers who organically cultivate 2,128 hectares of cacao. The Association has built a reputation for tackling the challenges facing Ghana’s cacao sector, from poverty to child labor. Investment in healthcare and sanitation, provision of school uniforms, books and fees, sponsorship of female entrepreneurs, and price premiums paid for cacao are among ABOCFA’s strategies for improving its members’ livelihoods.
Living less than an hour from Ghana’s coastal capital of Accra, ABOCFA’s members cultivate small cacao farms averaging approximately 2 hectares in size. The producers are spread among 13 hamlets governed by a combination of historical chiefdoms and the national government. Tradition and customs still matter in these communities, and a visit to ABOCFA’s office or a farmer’s land is always preceded by a visit to the local Chief to exchange gifts and request permission to visit the community. The hamlets fall within the Eastern Region, one of Ghana’s oldest cacao growing areas that is home to a diversity of ethnicities, the largest of which is the Akan.
Nearly 70% of the world’s cacao grows in Ghana and neighboring country Ivory Coast. For this reason, cacao from the region boasts the flavor most consumers have come to associate with chocolate - a deep, rich fudginess. ABOCFA’s cacao beans perfectly embody this flavor profile. Heaped into piles sitting on and covered by banana leaves, the beans ferment for 7 days with occasional mixing to ensure consistency. Afterward, the cacao is placed on raised wooden beds under the hot sun. Once dried to 7% moisture level, the cacao is collected by the local buying company and transported to a warehouse outside of the capital for subsequent loading onto a freight ship. To ensure Organic certification, the cacao is fully traceable from farm to warehouse to ship and finally, to Taza’s factory in Somerville, MA for stone grinding into delicious chocolate!