BirdLife: The Magazine Apr-Jun 2018 - Page 48

FORESTS OF HOPE pineapples and chilli peppers, and tendrils of maize. From these forest-edge smallholdings, the Goleagorbu farmers take the cocoa and process in groups, then together take cocoa to the new Buying Centres. Each centre is equipped with scales, a receipt book and a published price for cocoa per kilo. It may sound simple but farmers had not seen this level of transparency before. As Juma Koroma, one of the Treasurers at GCPO, explains: “I used to sell cocoa to other traders in the area. Traders would often cheat us; they never allowed the scales to face me, so I couldn’t see the weight of my cocoa and had no idea what price I should expect. I have now learnt to read the scales myself and know what I deserve for my cocoa.” In the village of Lalehun, members have already saved enough to start a credit scheme, which makes a small amount of interest to invest back into the Organization. The Gola Cocoa team have supported the elected leaders Pygmy Hippopotamus Photo RSPB 4 Girl trying chocolate for the first time Photo Katie Sims 0 Bockerie Sama drying beans Photo R Anstead / Twin 7 Profits from the first container of cocoa sold went 75% to the farmers & 25% back into the Organization I NTRODUCING: GOLA RA I N FO RE ST CHOCOLAT E BARS Watch out for the launch of the chocolate bar later this year at www.rspb.org.uk The RSPB and Gola Rainforest National Park cocoa project is partnered with Twin (NGO and trader, UK), Jula (local technical consultancy, Sierra Leone) and supported by Comic Relief (UK donor). www.standfortrees.org www.golarainforest.org www.trilliontrees.org 48 to become strong representatives, and 27% are women. A programme of training for youth Master Farmers also encourages knowledge to be shared with future generations. Globally, industry is also waking up to cocoa-driven deforestation, and recent announcements from the 12 biggest cocoa companies herald a commitment to “zero deforestation cocoa supply chains”. In a similar vein, our work at Gola is also a flagship for our exciting new venture, Trillion Trees (with WCS and WWF), that boldly aims to end deforestation by 2050, such as by scaling-up proven projects like this to other parts of the tropics. In Gola, the next step for the farmers is to sell their quality Gola Rainforest Cocoa to higher- value markets around the world – which Twin (a UK NGO and trader) are helping with. What is our next step in making this business work? The development of our own Gola Rainforest Chocolate bar. “We’re exploring with chocolate makers what’s possible for our own-brand bar,” says Alice Ward-Francis, Senior Forests Programme Officer, BirdLife. “We want to show the world that Sierra Leonean cocoa can taste amazing whilst protecting rainforest.” Some of the first batch of pilot bars were taken by the RSPB for the Goleagorbu farmers to try chocolate for the first time. Aminata Berewa, supervisor of the cocoa team, remembers: “The look on their faces was total surprise! They enjoyed tasting it, discovering the flavour, especially knowing it was their own cocoa in the bar”. With deforestation reduced and 2,000 people empowered, the taste is doubly delicious. birdlife • apr-jun 2018