S: Winning Together - Walking for Ghana 2010-2011 Amy J Schimmoeller
FC: Winning Together - Walking for Ghana February 4 - 12, 2011
1: In 2010 I was selected as one of the Barry Callebaut Chicago Office's Winning Together Coordinators. I helped plan both walking events and Ghanian learning opportunities to teach and motivate my colleges. The goal was to bring awareness to Barry Callebaut's Corporate Responsibility projects and promote solidarity with the other Barry Callebaut offices to reach a common goal of walking 50,000kms. The 50,000kms was to represent the distances traveled by children in Ghana on their walk to school. Barry Calllebaut employees walked more than 150,000kms and because of our efforts Barry Callebaut donated $50,000 Swiss francs towards scholarships for mothers and 2 of their children in cocoa producing communities. The scholarships were to help the pay for school expenses for the children and to support the mother's small business through funding for supplies and business training. I traveled to Ghana in February 2011 along with 8 other Barry Callebaut employees from 8 different countries to learn about cocoa farming, the cocoa supply chain, cocoa growing communities, Ghanian culture, and meet some of our scholarship recipients. There are no words to describe my experiences and the knowledge I gained on my journey. It was both humbling and educational. I would do it all again in a heartbeat and I cannot wait for the opportunity to return! I thank Barry Callebaut for giving me the opportunity.
2: A baby cocoa pod at Tetteh Quarshie's Cocoa Farm - the first cocoa farm in Ghana. | Above: This is the oldest Cocoa tree in Ghana. It has been bearing fruit since 1870.
3: Left: The "Go To Hell" (tool to remove pods high in the tree) about to remove the pod from high up in the tree. Each pod starts out as a flower. The gestation period is only 18mths for the now popular hybrids. A tree reaches full production in 3 years and can produce 3 metric tons of dried beans per hectare. One hectare is approximately 2.47 acres.
4: Once the pods are removed from the tree they are cracked in half using a machete or blunt object. The placenta with the beans are removed. We tasted a bean wrapped in the placenta and cracked it open in our mouth - it doesn't taste anything like chocolate! Instead it is just very sweet and fruity tasting.
5: We learned that the stick is the preferred tool when opening pods because the machete can damage the beans. The damage can prevent the beans from fermenting properly.
7: We visited the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) where we learned about the different fermentation methods. CRIG has many different roles in Ghana and is supported by the government. In Ghana the government controls the cocoa supply chain upon purchasing the beans from the farmers. | Above Left: Fermented vs. Un-fermented bean. Cocoa does not develop a chocolate flavor until it has been fermented. Above Middle: CRIG promotes using all parts of the cocoa pod upon harvesting. Here they are collecting the sweat from the fermenting beans which will be used to produce items such as cocoa wine or brandy. Above Right: Cocoa beans drying in the sun. CRIG has set up a covered drying area, something most farmers do not have access to. Sun drying is the preferred fermentation method and the only method allowed in Ghana.
8: CRIG also does extensive research in cocoa plant variety, diseases, pests, etc. They also grow seedlings of the current preferred "hybrid"cocoa tree and sell them to farmers.
9: We visited Abraham's cocoa farm. Abraham is a share-cropper. He is usually a first adapter of CRIG's recommendations and has a thriving farm to show for it. | Abraham has 2 wives and ten children. They were a lucky family as they had a water well at their home - a very rare sight.
10: We visited a Cocoa Society where the farmers deliver their cocoa and receive payment. The Society finishes drying the cocoa and then sells delivers it to the Cocoa Districts who then deliver it to the Cocoa Marketing Board, the final step before selling to Barry Callebaut and other end users.
11: At the Cocoa Society they check moisture content and sort the beans based on size (below left). One bag of cocoa is 64 kilograms and the price the Ghanian government was paying to farmers for the current harvest was $200Cedi ($150usd) per bag.
13: Bottom Left and Middle - Palm Oil drying in the sun. Palm Oil is another cash crop grown by farmers. Few farmers grow only cocoa and it is encouraged to diversify your farm to replace nutrients in the soil and provide shade to the cocoa trees when they are young.
14: The final step of the cocoa supply chain in Ghana is the Cocoa Marketing Company & Cocoa Quality Company - both part of COCOBOD, a division of the government. We visited one of the three COCOBOD warehouses in Ghana. The warehouse was at maximum capacity when we were there which is 155,000mt of cocoa beans.
15: Ghanian cocoa is know worldwide for its fantastic taste and quality. The Cocoa Quality Company is responsible for ensuring the quality is evident in every bag of cocoa that is purchased. They showed us their bean grading system. Very little modern technology is used in this system.
16: These men are showing is the 'cutting' of cocoa beans. They essentially cut a sample of beans in half. Then by using only their eyes they identify any beans that are not perfect (over fermented, germinated, moldy, etc and adjust the grade. Bean size is also taken into account in the grading. And the better the grade the more the beans are worth on the market.
18: We visited Ghana at the end of the dry season which is also the end of the main harvest. In Ghana, ripe pods vary in color from purple to gold. The pod on the bottom left was one of the larger pods I noticed. However it was small compared with those that grow after the rainy season. The peak production takes place during late summer to early fall.
19: We also visited 3 cocoa communities that benefit from Barry Callebaut's Corporate Responsibility initiatives. The first community was Odama where Barry Callebaut has helped refinished the school's floors, converted an empty building into a library and computer room, donated computes, and were about to assist in a school expansion.
21: One day we visited Kojokrom, a 3 hour drive from Kamasi. We had a wonderful celebration with the community and the women prepared a lunch for us (cocoa yam & sauce) which we all appreciated! Everyone there was so welcoming.
22: Pictured above is Aboagyewa, one of our Scholarship Winners and her family. Her son, Robert, also benefited from a scholarship. Aboagyewa is a seamstress and a cocoa farmer with four children (1 boy & 3 girls). Her husband is a former headmaster of a school. Robert was adopted by the family at a very young age and did not know he was adopted. Aboagyewa learned to sew at 20 years of age from her sister and now sews for both women and children, but they must provide the fabric. Her biggest problem is people not returning for their finished goods. But business is going well enough that she can decide when to take a break. Aboagyewa learned money management through her business training. She used some of her profits to help build her family's new home which was one of the nicest we saw in the cocoa communities.
23: Left: Juliana Nkrumah is 35 and married with seven children. She is a bread baker and her husband is a cocoa farmer. There is no electricity in her community so she must travel to another town to bake it a couple of times per week. There are many competitors but she says hers is the best because she uses nutmeg! One of her sons wants to be a doctor and the other a nurse. | Right: Joyce Asante is 38 and married with seven children. She is a cocoa farmer who sells provisions in her store during the off season. She dreams of her children reaching higher education and that her store's success continues so that she can expand and continue providing for her family.
24: Kente Cloth | The Ashanti area of Ghana is known for their Kente cloth weaving. It is a very colorful and intricate process.
25: The Ghanian countryside. Fires are prevalent during the dry season. We traveled many kilometers of dirt roads, but on the main roads you could purchase almost anything while waiting in traffic (snacks, phone minutes, maps...)
26: We visited the Kakum National Park which used to belong to the Forestry Dept. causing it to be void of most animals except at night. We did a canopy walk among the trees walking about 40 meters off the ground. It was beautiful, but not all of my co-workers appreciated it!
29: We also visited a crocodile pond. They are not the most attractive animals! But the birds hanging out by the pond were a pretty sight!
30: But I touched one! It seemed like a cool idea at the time and my knees were shaking. But looking back it was probably not the best idea because it looks hungry! Can you tell I just wanted them to take the picture quickly so that I could get away from it?
31: We also checked out the historical site of Elmina Castle. It was used as a slave depot by the British.
32: A few pics of our lodgings and transportation - thank goodness for shocks! Plus a little group bonding as some of the men learned the art of Blackjack!
33: I was not sure what to expect in terms of lodgings, but we were taken care of. No bugs in the rooms and a hot shower every night, even when we were not in the big cities Kamasi and Accra. Though take note of the right middle picture where the cord for the water heater is handing in the shower!
34: We visited Barry Callebaut's factory in Ghana - my first visit to a BC factory! Here we break down the beans into two products that are exported to both Europe and North America - roasted cocoa nibs and cocoa liquor.
35: Finally we have some of my favorite pictures and a few more comments, but of course there are many experience from my journey not included on these pages. But one of the biggest reflection points is that the people of Ghana are so happy even though they have so little...
43: Above are my Barry Callebaut colleges from all over the world who traveled to Ghana for Winning Together. From right to left: Ruth Flore Ngo Bidjocka - Cameroon, myself, Adama Toure - Ivory Coast, Tomas Guzman - Mexico, Azwadi Zauti - Malaysia, Fabian Riesen - Switzerland, Andrea Fraschini - Italy, Nina Helin - Germany, and Galina Bagdanova - Russia.
44: Our lodgings on the beach for one night, it was paradise! Nothing like a swim in the ocean before breakfast!