Sweet like chocolate...

Ivory Coast

Daniel is definitely not the first man to make his wife happier by providing more chocolate for her – and almost certainly he won’t be the last. In actual fact, both their lives are sweeter because of it...

No doubt we’re conjuring up images of delicious, store-bought decadence. Smiles over individually wrapped moments of guilty pleasure. For Daniel and his family, chocolate is a far more important matter. As a cocoa farmer in Ivory Coast, he is part of an agricultural industry which supplies around 33 per cent of cocoa used in the manufacture of chocolate around the world.

It’s a giant business, with large confectionery producers buying Ivorian cocoa for eye-watering sums of money. But for Daniel and his family, right at the origin of it all, life hasn’t always been sweet.

With seven children, Daniel and his wife have a lot of mouths to feed. While the large amounts of cocoa exported from Ivory Coast might suggest a healthy bottom line for producers, most of the farmers making up that mass total are actually smallholders. At just over two hectares, Daniel and his wife’s small farm is no corporate-scale operation. Even so, it should still have been enough for a crop yield which would support their family.

But they were struggling.

A bitter taste
It’s not an uncommon problem. Soil which has been farmed year after year loses the rich nutrients needed to nourish healthy produce. Each new harvest has less goodness to draw from the ground. Daniel’s land wasn’t managing to support nearly as much as it should have. The crops that did grow didn’t have the lovely, healthy colour which points to premium quality beans either.

Daniel despaired. He understood the problem, but says he didn’t have the techniques to treat it. He needed new solutions.

Then he came into contact with Tearfund’s local church partner, the Alliance for Integral Development and Social Action (ADIAS). They had exactly what he was looking for – training on how to combat the soil issue that Daniel, and other farmers like him, had been battling.

Nourishment
‘I attended different training sessions on organic fertilisers and on farming God’s way [ie not damaging to the environment],’ says Daniel. ‘With the lessons learnt [and inspired by the success stories of other farmers nearby] I decided to make my own compost. I used it to enrich the soil of my cocoa farm. Now I see that my cocoa tree leaves are greener and the pods are bigger. My production has doubled.’

Sweeter things
Daniel is looking forward to seeing his harvests continue to increase, thanks to these new farming techniques. So far he has even been able to afford to extend his farm by another half hectare.

‘I am very happy,’ says Daniel. ‘My wife is also happy because our income has increased.’

The new information and training has been the catalyst for a much sweeter life for Daniel and his family. Who knows? In our next cheeky, chocolatey treat, maybe Daniel’s work will have made ours a little sweeter too.

PLEASE PRAY

  • Thank God for Daniel and his family. Praise God for their lives and their happiness and pray that their crops will continue to flourish.
  • Pray for Ivory Coast and for each farmer who works there – and that we will remember that, even though we may be far away, we are all one body and our lives affect each other in practical and spiritual ways.
  • Thank God for the work of our partners and pray for increased knowledge and innovation, which can be shared and continue to transform lives.
Tarryn Pegna

Tarryn has worked her way around the building in Teddington on temp contracts at various times and in various (and very varied) teams at Tearfund over the past 11-odd years. She’s finally settled in the copy team as it marries her love of words, people and Tearfund. (She also loves her kids, coffee and chocolate – but, for safety reasons, has no immediate plans to join up those particular entities!)