Give a man a fish and you feed him once. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
The saying is as old as we can remember, but the principles behind it echo loudly in the efforts of the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), founded by actor/writer/director Ben Affleck, and Seattle-based Theo Chocolate. By educating farmers in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) on how to build, grow and sustain cacao farms, the ECI has created a vehicle of infrastructure and productivity for the region.
As one of the largest countries in Africa, the DRC's arable land mass lends itself to farming, and, if successfully harvested, crops from the DRC have the potential to feed one third of the global population.
The efforts are not met without challenges. Fear of change amongst the Congolese is one unique obstacle. The key to overcoming the averse mindset is showing how the proposed change can improve community conditions and create a steady, reliable source of revenue for the people.
Theo Chocolate works in partnership with the ECI to develop training programs for Congolese farmers. These training programs ensure that quality cacao is produced in market ready condition. Theo Chocolate has currently exported 250 tons of organic, Fair Trade certified cacao from the DRC during the September 2012 harvest. The goal is to get other chocolatiers to do the same.
By choosing Congolese grown cacao, chocolatiers from around the world have an opportunity to make a significant impact on the DRC community. The purchase of 250 tons of Congolese cacao has a positive impact on the lives of over 20,000 Congolese people. The more cacao Congolese farmers can sell, the greater their market access and pricing can be. Household incomes for those famers will increase, farming families will be able to send their children to school and improve their access to health care.
Yumology is small voice in a food community of millions but we hope that this post will positively impact our readers, especially those of you in the chocolate business who have a genuine opportunity to support the Congolese cacao farms by making them your suppliers.
For those of us who don't own a chocolate shop but still want to show our support, Congolese chocolate bars can be purchased for $5.00 per 3 oz. bar at www.theochocolate.com.To learn more about the Eastern Congo Initiative please visit their website at www.easterncongo.org
All images in this post courtesy of www.theochocolate.com