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23 November 2020

Forest-Friendly Cocoa

Ngoleagorbu Cocoa Farmers’ Union (NGOCFU) is a cooperative of just under 2000 cocoa farmers living on the edge of the Gola Rainforest in Sierra Leone, one of the last remaining fragments of West Africa’s ancient rainforest. ‘Ngoleagorbu’ (when you pronounce Ngoleagorbu the ‘n’ is silent) means ‘We who live at the edge of the forest’.

The Gola Rainforest is the largest remnant of Tropical Rainforest in Sierra Leone. It is an internationally recognised global biodiversity hotspot and is home to endangered species like the Pygmy Hippo and the critically endangered Western Chimpanzee.

Divine has been working with NGOCFU since 2018 on an innovative pilot project with the Cocoa Origins programme to develop the first Forest-Friendly Cocoa Vision, criteria and practices which can be replicated in other cocoa supply chains and origins. Funded by IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative), the project is building knowledge in the cocoa sector and improving the livelihoods of farmers living on the edge of the Gola Rainforest.

So what is Forest-Friendly?

The Forest-Friendly approach is about working together to farm sustainably, protect the rainforest and support the sustainable livelihoods of forest-frontier farmers and their organisations.

Forest-Friendly Cocoa from Ngoleagorbu’s farmer members is the story of the people from the Gola Rainforest who have found a way to produce premium cocoa while co-existing with the wildlife and landscape.

For Ngoleagorbu’s farmers, Fairtrade is a key element to the farmers having a sustainable livelihood in harmony with the forest. Forest-Friendly cocoa production with fair prices incentivises farmers to protect the forest, and reduces the need to generate an income from fishing, poaching, mono-crop farming and mining.

You can read more about the background of the project and its impact here

Sidie Sesay is a cocoa farmer from Sierra Leone, and is part of Ngoleagorbu. Sidie reports that he used to receive 7,000 Leones per kilogram of cocoa, but this has more than doubled to 15,000 Leones, thanks to being part of Ngoleagorbu. This has helped Sidie and his family to have a better quality of life.

Read more about Sidie’s story here

Pygmy hippos occur in only four countries in West Africa (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea) and they are currently endangered. There isn't a reliable estimate for the remaining pygmy hippo population in the wild, but researchers believe it ranges from 2,000 to 3,000 individuals.

They are found in forested areas, which now are very much fragmented and continue to be under immense human pressure linked to agriculture, logging and mining.

Due to their endangered status, it's incredibly important Pigmy hippos are protected, so we're proud at Divine to be working so closely with Ngoleagorbu Cocoa Farmers to ensure they farm sustainably, working in harmony with the forest and its wildlife habitat.

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