A revolution in chocolate
In a nutshell
Most of the world’s six million smallholder cocoa farmers live at society’s margins, trapped in poverty and lacking the possibility to take decisions to shape their own future. Their income depends strongly on commodity prices and on a few powerful industry players, which encourages them to follow environmentally harmful farming practices. Although smallholders are essential contributors to chocolate production, many of their children and grandchildren see no future in this unprofitable form of agriculture and move to cities in search of a better life.
A producer and distributor of premium chocolate, Choba Choba aims to harness the potential of social business to empower cocoa farmers in the heart of Peru’s upper Amazon to lead prosperous, self-determined lives. Farmers who produce cocoa for Choba Choba are shareholders in the company, receive training in leadership and management, chocolate entrepreneurship and environmental conservation and enjoy access to a high-value market. The training not only teaches the farmers how to improve their cocoa production but also allows them to see with their own eyes the impacts of specific practices, such as the use of biological fertilisers and pesticides, on production in a specific plot.
The approach is designed to tackle some of the biggest challenges that cocoa farmers face:
- By taking advantage of Choba Choba’s bottom-up pricing mechanism, farmers can get a fair price for their cocoa.
- By strengthening their entrepreneurial skills, farmers gain insights into the international cocoa value chain and turn from raw material suppliers into chocolate entrepreneurs.
- By developing forest conservation and cocoa biodiversity projects, farmers raise their environmental awareness.
- By becoming Choba Choba shareholders, farmers gain decision-making and negotiating power, improve their self-esteem and share in the company’s profits. They have representatives on the board and a voice in the company’s product development, communication and marketing strategy.
Goals and Impact
Choba Choba's overall objective is to turn the chocolate industry on its head by empowering cocoa farmers in Alto Huayabamba Valley to become chocolate entrepreneurs in harmony with their environment. During its collaboration with the Swiss Re Foundation, the following goals were achieved:
- Choba Choba farmers generated CHF 2 000 more revenue in 2018 and CHF 3 000 more revenue in 2019 than they had in 2017. This additional income enabled them to improve quality, command fair prices and invest in other revenue-generating activities such as ecotourism.
- Farmers increased their capacities in organic farming and post-harvest processes. Specifically, they learned and experimented with treatments to prevent and fight pests and disease vectors on their land and learned methods to systematically prune and collect infected cacao pods to prevent pests from spreading.
- Through the recruitment of a cooperative manager and external support, the cooperative improved its regulatory framework, its management and accounting tools and practices and the competences of its leaders and staff.
- Two Choba Choba farmers who traveled to Switzerland in 2019 as part of the project wrote a report summarizing their activities and lessons learned and prepared workshops to share their newfound knowledge with colleagues in Peru on their return.