Expanding Trading Opportunity for Gola Cocoa

SCNL, RSBP, and Partnership for Forest Project take initiative to Lofa County

The Society for the Conservation of Nature (SCNL) is implementing a one-year project with cocoa cooperatives in Lofa County. The project is being sponsored by Partnership for Forest (P4F), through the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). The project aims to ‘explore and expand’ the trading opportunity for Gola cocoa, to ensure its marketability within and beyond the craft “Chocolate Market”.

The Key outputs of the project are: Improving the quality of Gola Cocoa, improving the marketability and trading of Gola Cocoa, and onboarding new cooperatives into the Gola Cocoa supply chain. The Gola Rainforest Conservation (GRC) Cocoa Business support facility, including sharing lessons with cooperatives (producer organizations) in Liberia.

From December 3-10, 2022, a cross-exchange visit was led by SCNL Cocoa Coordinator, Matthew Williams. On December 5, 2022, SCNL Master Farmers from Liberia, and the P4F Team visited the GRC-LG Cocoa office in Kenema city, Sierra Leone, where the SCNL team, P4F, and GRC-LG, and the Master farmers were later taken to GRC-LG, and Mr. Boima Musa, the Administrative Superintendent welcomed the team to GRC-LG headquarters.

 Mr. Asinu Janneh presented Conservation Enterprise’s achievements, objectives, structures, traceability, adaptability, and challenges of the entity. The SCNL Team also learned about forest-friendly activities, quality control, and access to the international market from conservation enterprises. The Farmers also learned about the tracking of cocoa farmers under the NGOFU Cooperative. Mr. Janneh informed the SCNL Cocoa team to come together in order to be successful as a cooperative and to have access to the market.

The team traveled to Madina to meet with the cocoa cooperative members and visited a cocoa farm. At NGOLEEGORBU Cocoa farmers’ cooperative meaning (forest edge community), the chairman of the cooperative, Mr. Marcus Kanneh discussed with the SCNL the establishment of the cooperative, the processes involved to become a cooperative, and the steps and activities within the cooperative.

According to the chairman, they have 1090 members within the 12 clusters. Mr. kanneh told the farmers about the field training they got from GRC including; rehabilitation, brushing, pruning, shade management, child labor, quality control, harvesting, and fermentation.

Expanding trading opportunities for Gola Cocoa

On October 24, 2022, a Consultative Participatory Town Hall meeting was held in the Massabolaum Community, Lofa County with Sebehill Multipurpose Farmers’ Cooperative. The aim of the meeting was to inform the cooperative members about the objective of the project. The meeting was attended by all Sebehill members.  During the consultative meeting, four selected master cocoa farmers were selected by the cooperative members for the lesson-learned trip to Sierra Leone. The participants promised to supply more dried fermented cocoa beans.

On February 24, 2023, SCNL conducted a three-day training in cocoa production management and forest-friendly standard processing for six cocoa farmers (Master farmers) in Lofa County. At the end of training in Koalahun, the cocoa team and lead farmers shared knowledge learned throughout the exercise with one another on forest-friendly cocoa production.

Yatta J. Kamara and Mohammed S. Sayon are master farmers, involved in cocoa farming. They benefitted from the three-day training. both participants appreciated SCNL and its partners for the training. Kamara said she learned a lot about farm management, how to take care of the cocoa farm, and how to manage the forest for the future generation. “I have four acres of coca farm, and I want women to get involved in cocoa farming, not to destroy the forest, I want them to reserve the forest for the next generation”.

For Sayon, the training provided new acknowledgment of how farmers can manage their cocoa farms, and how we can benefit from them. “For years, farmers have been using the forest for farming, SCNL and partners are helping us to keep the forest, so, the areas we have been designated to farm, let’s continue to farm in those areas, and protect the forest for the future,” he added.