In October 2018, we were lucky enough to be visited by Hortência Pina, a farmer, and Adalberto Luis, the CEO of the CECAQ-11 cooperative in São Tomé, who grow the cocoa for Divine’s Organic range.
Hortência and Adalberto’s first venture to the UK had a packed schedule with plenty of media commitments, including an interview with renowned photographer, David Chancellor. Their arrival and engagements coincided with the We Feed the World exhibition, which featured photographs of the CECAQ-11 cooperative, taken by David, alongside 46 other smallholder farms, photographed by award-winning photographers.
The day after their arrival Hortência and Adalberto were interviewed by BBC Focus on Africa. During the interview Adalberto spoke about the importance of the cocoa industry for the economy of São Tomé, calling cocoa “the wonder of the islands”. He also spoke about the co-operative structure being a “new era for industry”, whereby 70% of the earnings go back to the farmers.
Hortência, meanwhile, explained how much life had positively changed since the introduction of organic and fairtrade farming of cocoa on the island, which she calls “the best in the world”. Hortência also talked about the importance of women in cocoa farming. She shared that women have the same rights as men in the co-operative but also get further support such as the introduction of a kindergarten so that women can work on the farms whilst their children are looked after.
The São Toméans attended the We Feed the World launch event on their 5th day, as well as our joint event with CaféDirect the following day, both speaking about their work and the importance of farming for the country. Hortência in particular gave an inspirational speech about women’s empowerment and raising awareness of domestic violence, which was met by cheers from the audience.
In the intervals between their speaking engagements, Hortência and Adalberto enjoyed the sights of London, including Tower Bridge and Parliament.
On their final day, Hortência and Adalberto travelled to Leeds to visit Suma Wholesale, a co-operative that shares many of the values of CECAQ-11 and Divine Chocolate.