Edouardo’s farm is 2.5 hectares, and he says he’s currently producing around 930 kg of wet cocoa on average per year.
He joined his local association in 2009, right from the beginning when the Fairtrade and organic certified co-operative CECAQ-11 helped them set it up. As well as the help getting the farmers organised, Eduardo said the initial benefit of being members of CECAQ-11 was the fact the farmers get paid twice – and advance for their wet cocoa, and a follow-up payment when their cocoa is dry. Since he joined many other benefits have been enjoyed including good organic farming training, help funding inputs, access to new cocoa seedlings, and to loans.
He and his fellow farmers have also invested their share of the Fairtrade premium in improving their facilities and equipment for fermenting and drying their cocoa.
When the association was first established Eduardo was elected as association Secretary. He explains that his fellow farmers had already seen him performing a similar function in the arrangement that existed before CECAQ-11 came along. “They considered me a good leader, a good recorder, and good with accounts,” he says. They have voted him as Secretary again since.
Eduardo says the best thing about being a cocoa farmer on São Tomé is that “they respect the standards of quality and the benefits of organic production, so they know their cocoa is excellent, and they are proud of it!”