1. Access to clean water. Wells are often contaminated or villagers obtain their water from streams and rivers. This leads to often fatal waterborne diseases.
Siting and Construction of a Well Are Critical to Village Health
2. Access to markets: villages are often located on rutted roads that are impassable to all but the largest trucks. Bicycles help farmers get their product from farm to village and even to market.
Two-Year-Old Cocoa Tree on its Way to Join a Cocoa Grove
3. Value chain: because villagers have a hard time traveling to larger population centers, they rely on middlemen (pisteurs) who can afford the trucks to get their products to market. And buying agents (or Licensed Buying Companies in Ghana) purchase from the middlemen. And local companies, usually located at the ports, process beans into semi-finished product (liquor, butter, and powder.)
Karim Bandre, Pisteur in the Village of Batteguedea
4. Permaculture: it is possible to blend types of plants and architecture to blend beauty and functionality. How useful is neem to health of farmers and plants? What other tropical products might be grown inside the village that might have utility?
Neem Oil Has Great Utility and Can be Grown in Villages
5. Organic agriculture: cocoa farmers stand to benefit from selling their beans on the organic market. Avoiding the use of petrochemicals has a positive environmental payback.
Organic Cocoa Beans Fetch $150 More Per Metric Ton
6. Diversification: palm oil, rice, gari, plantains, dried coconut, African yams, cashews, and Robusta coffee are alternate agricultural products that stand to improve the profitability of the cocoa farmer.
Gari, Fermented, Dried, and Ready for Sale
7. Food Technology: leveraging current village expertise into profit centers might involve construction of buildings and installation of machinery that will produce marketable product for sale outside the village. Building laboratories in which farmers learn to correlate fermentation methods with quality of end product (e.g., TCHO FlavorLab™).
8. Appropriate technologies: incorporation of simple photovoltaic systems for lighting; improvement of sanitary facilities; ensuring a safe water supply; chilling systems for preservation of vegetables and fruits.
Justin Alvarez Designs a Small Photovoltaic System
9. Nutrition: Role of social rank in access to nutrient-dense foods. Role of sauces in providing complex carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins.
Assignment of kitchen duties in the family unit.
10. Architecture: as a village gains economically, how does it change aesthetically? In Ghana, farmers who are more successful economically tend to build with concrete blocks. Are there more beautiful alternatives? How can a cocoa study center be useful to the community while also housing students and a laboratory?
11. Cottage Industry: today, the cocoa business remains colonial in nature. Cocoa farmers still think of the beans as a cash crop, producing value only at the time of sale to some middleman, never considering the value of the product itself. This situation can change, as tropical farmers join the world of commerce and actually produce chocolate.
Not long ago, making chocolate was the purview of the capitalists, as the machinery was of necessity large and expensive. This is no longer the case, and small companies such as Cacao Cucina are manufacturing machines that make chocolate production possible.
Every cocoa study center will include a small factory that can produce hundreds of chocolate bars per day as well as molded and filled chocolates. Individual farmers and visiting students can develop products here for sale in nearby towns.