We began Kokoa Kamili for three reasons:
1. We believe that farmers should be rewarded fairly for their hard work
2. We believe that Tanzanian cocoa has the potential to be some of the best in the world
3. We believe in the power of cocoa to bring real economic development to rural Tanzanian farmers
Tanzanian cocoa has a unique and delicious inherent flavour - the genetics and the growing environment result in a great tasting bean. However, the fermenting and drying that takes place after harvesting is not always done well at the farm level. Cocoa in Tanzania is almost exclusively grown by smallholder farmers - Tanzania has one of the lowest GDP per capita rates in the world and farmers in rural areas often live hand-to-mouth. Before Kokoa Kamili the only companies in the country were focused on buying large volumes of commodity cocoa - farmers had no incentive to improve quality.
We saw this as a gap. By purchasing cocoa straight from the pod, we are able to save farmers the time and hard work they would have to spend fermenting and drying cocoa. Farmers have already told us how pleased they are to have extra time to tend to their cocoa trees and other farms. In addition, we have committed to paying a price premium above prevailing market rates - in 2013 we paid a premium pf 23%, in 2014 we were able to stretch this to 24%
After purchasing wet cocoa, we ferment it at our custom built fermentation lines where we are able to constantly monitor the fermentation process. After fermentation, we move the beans to our drying tables for sun-drying. There they are constantly monitored and turned - resulting in Tanzania's highest quality cocoa!
Where We Work
Kokoa Kamili works in Tanzania - famous for our national parks, big game, and of course Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania has a long history with cocoa since the crop was first introduced in the 1880s.
At Kokoa Kamili, we work in the Kilombero Valley area of Morogoro Region. Approximately a ten hour drive from the country's main city of Dar es Salaam, our operations are based in the village of Mbingu (Kiswahili for Heaven) bordering the beautiful Udzungwa Mountain National Park. Mbingu is fairly rural with no access to electricity or tarred roads for about sixty kilometers.
At Kokoa Kamili we work with about 2000 registered smallholder farmers. Most of our farmers own between 0.5 to two acres of land - focusing on food crops. For many of our farmers, cocoa is one of their major sources of income.
We also work with the Mbingu Sisters, a convent in the village that operates a 30 acre cocoa farm. The income the Sisters earn from their farm goes to support much of the charitable work that they conduct - including operating a hospital, school, and orphanage in the area.