- We speak with Adalberto Luis and Hortencia Pina, members of co-operative Sao Tome, about how their connection with Divine is helping sustain a community
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How does doing so support you and the people around you?
When Divine buys our cocoa we get a Fairtrade premium, and the farmer members of our co-op choose how to spend it. They make the decision within each association. Some have paid for electricity to come to their village, for example, or for improving the roads to their village. Also they have built new houses, and one community – Bernardo Farro – has built a day care and creche centre. They saved their Premium for three years to build this centre and decorated it all themselves. It is a good investment – it gives some people jobs looking after and teaching the children, and it allows all the mothers to go to work and earn more money.
Would you like to see this business model used elsewhere in the world?
Divine is owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana; it is an interesting business model and it would be good to see it elsewhere. It gives the farmers more income and more power in the cocoa industry and more control over their own lives and businesses. This model has also allowed Divine to buy some cocoa from us at CECAQ-11. We get Fairtrade premium, and the farmer-owners still get their share of Divine’s profits.
How do you think the world as a whole benefits?
Around the world everyone loves chocolate – if there are more business models like this, the farmers benefit too (as well as all those people enjoying the chocolate!). At the We Feed the World exhibition in London it showed that this is the case for all the food we eat. If farmers are paid properly they can carry on farming, and growing the food we like to eat.
Are you proud of the end product – do you feel a connection with it?
It tastes good! We like the Divine recipe. But it is especially good to see our stories inside the wrapper and in their publicity. People understand the cocoa came from us and they also maybe hear about São Tomé for the first time!
What would you like to say to British consumers?
We grow good cocoa – and you like good chocolate. Buy chocolate that puts the farmers first – so you know the farmers benefit when you eat delicious chocolate made with the cocoa we have grown with pride.