The CECAQ-11 co-operative, São Tomé Island, Africa
© David Chancellor
POSTED 9th July 2019

An overview of the small co-operative of cocoa farmers in São Tomé, CECAQ-11, who produce the cocoa for Divine's Organic range.

São Tomé is a volcanic island, covered in lush, verdant rainforest, 155 miles off the Coast of West Africa). Together with its sister island, Princípe, it is sometimes described as the Galapagos of Africa as it has more unique species per square mile than anywhere on Earth. Only 30 miles long and 20 miles wide, it offers the perfect conditions to grow cocoa and during Portuguese rule, for 500 years, it became the largest producer of cocoa in the world.

CECAQ-11 is a fairtrade and organic certified co-operative located in tropical São Tomé. The co-op consists of 1,135 farmer members, 402 of which are women. This democratic institution is divided into 23 associations with leadership in each. This allows members of the co-operative to elect which members they believe will serve the best as leaders to the rest. Being a part of a co-operative is helpful in many ways for farmers, with the main benefit being that by selling the cocoa within the co-operative to companies like Divine, farmers receive a higher price through Fairtrade standards and enjoy more resources to sustain their livelihoods.

CECAQ-11 values democracy, transparency, and openness in all they do. Since 2003, this co-op has been developing and growing their membership with some help from the International Fund for Agricultural Development. This is exciting for us at Divine Chocolate because we are thrilled to have more opportunities to work with farmers in supporting them economically and socially.

Hortencia Pina

A third of the co-operative farmers are women who grow food to feed their families and also earn a regular income from the cocoa they now grow. Hortência is the secretary of the local association of her community, Monte Bello. She has six children and has built a house and bought a motorbike – the transport of choice in the island – as a result of the income she has generated. Meanwhile, Fatima, who’s cocoa farm is on the steep slopes of another village, is the leader of her local women’s group. Both women feel empowered by taking leadership roles in the farmers’ co-operative. Fatima says her biggest aspiration remains “the health of everyone in the community”.

Divine has sourced CECAQ-11’s Fairtrade certified cocoa to launch its new Divine Organic range - 4 delicious high cocoa organic dark chocolate bars.

Divine Organic Line 54 e 2

This new organic line is made with a higher cocoa content (85%), which means less sugar content and a rich, smooth flavor. Not only is the new line Fairtrade Certified, certified organic by the USDA, Non-GMO Project Verified, and vegan, but it is also made without palm oil, soy or artificial flavors.The new line includes 4 bars, each with ingredients that chocolate explorers will enjoy when aiming for a delicious treat that complements a healthful lifestyle.