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Cocoa genetics

I received a message enquiring what cocoa varieties we supplied.

Here is my response:


By varieties do you mean genetics? Cocoa genetics is much more complicated than what is on instagram or facebook – ie the outdated view of the three varieties of criollo, trinitario and forastero.
Juan Motamayor identified more than 10 genetic clusters in a 2008 paper and more have been identified since.
The team at To’ak have published probably the best summary of this research that I have seen.
We have had genetic testing undertaken by ACIAR and USDA of a number of samples across Makira and while Amelonado is the majority genetic variety in most samples, many of the other genetic clusters have been identified at varying levels of percentages including Parinari, Nacional and Criollo, as well as an unclassified type.
Even if farms are of a specific variety, they need to be separated from other cocoa by about 100m to avoid cross pollination from other varieties. Even a specific seed within a pod may be different to the other seeds in the same pod due to this cross pollination.

There is far too much false marketing in the chocolate world around specific varieties. Probably only a handful of farms/suppliers around the world can truthfully claim that their supply is 100% genetically accurate.

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Empty promises from the Big chocolate sector

I read this “Empty Promises” report by Corporate Accountability Lab this morning and was appalled and discouraged at the complete lack of impact being created by all the major Chocolate companies CSR programs in Ivory coast – ie Mondelez’ Cocoa Life, Hershey’s Cocoa for good, Nestle’s Cocoa plan etc… Even the impact of certified programs like Fair trade and Rainforest Alliance was virtually imperceptible with farmers.
Again the marketing claims of positive impact do not come anywhere near the truth.
The report is summarised here but it is worth reading the full report.

The link to the full report is here:

Click to access Empty_Promises_2019.pdf

The Ivory Coast is the largest producer of cocoa in the world and supplies all of the major chocolate companies.

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Biana Bana community association

Late in 2018, I visited my family and community at Waimarae in Makira, where we have long term plans working with the community to protect the Leatherback turtles who come to nest on the local beach and also running a successful community association to sustainably meet the needs of the local smallholder farming families, which includes a cacao fermentary, research centre and cacao homestay.

I have a vision for Solomon Islands rural communities for local community associations that are strong on local conservation and biodiversity but also support sustainable smallholder farming for supporting rural livelihoods and have linkages to local and international NGOs for meeting health and other needs that are not being met by Solomon Islands Government services. I believe we have strong potential and opportunity through partnerships that have been developed/in progress to showcase this model over the next 10 years.

With me for this trip was Gabriel from Grainpro, who came along for a joint project between Makira Gold and Grainpro to work with us to produce a short farmer’s video on some of the work we are doing.

The video narrative explains how our late Uncle Barnabas was the founder of our vision and is the inspiration that keeps us going even now more than 20 years after his sudden passing. To honour his wisdom and the legacy he left for us, we have established and continue with our community association “Biana Bana”, which means Roots of Bana (Barnabas) in local Arosi language.

I am very happy to share with you the video here.