Less than a year later you can now buy it in UK from Ocado, Booths, and, from this summer, in Whole Foods Market too. The great taste of São Tomé cocoa (along with some fabulous ingredients like blueberries, popped quinoa, turmeric and ginger!) is also spreading worldwide with new distribution in Sweden, and across the East and West Coast USA.
12th July marks the day in 1975 that São Tomé finally became an independent nation. Independence for São Tomé meant a long hard struggle to try and keep the island’s reputation for cocoa – a vital export industry which all but collapsed, before outside help, a supportive elected Government, and the determination of the farmers themselves started to turn it around. Today farmers like the members of CECAQ-11 are rebuilding that reputation – now for quality more than quantity in the cocoa market.
As always Divine wanted to ensure that the farmers benefited from this new relationship with more than just an additional stream of income. We invited two representatives from the co-op over to the UK so that they themselves could announce the launch of the new range, and have a platform to tell their own story and what they hope to achieve.
Divine is also investing in farmer programmes run by the co-op with support from our NGO partner Twin. Having met farmer Hortência Pina, a powerful fighter for women’s rights, we are really excited that her vision is starting to be realised, and a large number of staff and members have now taken part in a big programme which is challenging stereotypes and ensuring women farmers can participate fully in their co-operative.
The co-op is also focused on ensuring more farmers get vital training on shade management, pruning and grafting – key basics to ensure more productive yields – and funding can support additions to the outreach team who go out to do the training.
So we’re wishing the members and staff of CECAQ-11 a very Happy Independence Day – and celebrating Divine’s continuing mission to introduce the world to great cocoa from new origins, as well as championing women’s empowerment, and supporting farming communities to manage their own successful and sustainable future!