Bafia lies on the north-eastern slopes of Mount Cameroon, one of Africa's largest volcanoes. The mountain rises from the coast to more than 4,000 meters surrounded by lush tropical rainforest with a large diversity of animals and plant life. Along the edges of this national park, farming families have for generations planted cocoa that thrives on the fertile volcanic soils. Harvests are plentiful and the cocoa fruits are large and healthy, producing beautiful cocoa beans with a smooth chocolate flavor. With the help of SNV Green Cocoa Business Service Centre, cocoa farmer cooperatives in the area have been investing in improved fermentation techniques.
Farmers are trained to process cocoa into cocoa powder, cocoa butter and some basic chocolate products. At newly established production units, young women and men work on the production of cocoa products for the first time. Not only does this provide an additional income to farmers, but it is also increasing the knowledge of farmers on the quality of the cocoa they are growing and harvesting.
Cocoa is the main cash crop, but farmer families also grow a range of other crops for the market and for their own subsistence. Traditionally, plantain, cassava, sugar cane and many other food plants are dispersed within the cocoa farms. With support from the Business Centre, farmers learn about new varieties of fruit trees, vegetables and staple food crops that can be integrated into their farms. This is not only good for the health of the family, but also for the farming system that becomes more resilient to climate fluctuations.
Harvested beans are stored for fermentation
Young men and women are now trained to process the raw cocoa into basic products
Throughout the year, women and men of all ages are engaged in cocoa farming, ensuring the trees are healthy and that the flowers turn into green, yellow and red cocoa pods. In November, after a number of lean months, the harvest starts and Bafia becomes turn alive, bustling with traders and farmers bringing in their cocoa for sale. Music plays and the restaurants are full of people enjoy good food and a drink or two, celebrating the results of their year’s hard work.
The cooperative in Bafia, BAFIACOOP, with 325 members and growing, is now looking to make direct connections with buyers outside Cameroon: buyers that are not only interested in good high-quality cocoa, but also interested in the people growing this fantastic crop and are willing to work together towards a sustainable cocoa future. Together with SNV, the cooperative offers high quality “Golden Cocoa” beans that are well fermented, solar dried and traceable directly to the individual farmers.