Many of you may know that I recently, together with a group of Chocolate loving Australians, visited Ghana in Africa The trip was organised by Sydney based FM Mayer who import quality produce and do so with, what I have to say is service excellence.
I know, it almost seems surreal as I type words that say that I have just been to Africa - I kind of ran to the gates of the plane the night I left , albeit a little apprehensive but definitely with no time to really talk or think about the trip at all. Dello Mano had been so busy leading up to the trip with the Easter period and so there was really no time at all. So it seems surreal to say that I was just in Africa! On the flight back I reflected and it was almost like I couldn't believe I had just been standing in a rain forest in Africa. What an amazing place. I 'll tell you all about the various aspects of their culture and all the fascinating things I learned, but today I wanted to start by showing you some of the beautiful farming faces behind chocolate in Ghana.
Ghana is recognised as having some of the highest quality cocoa beans in the world and most of the farms are indeed run by small business as in farmers and their families. Meeting the farmers and learning about their small business felt so akin to us here at Dello Mano. Whole families contributing to the business and getting the job done. A real pride in their business as it represents the value of their families whilst also sustaining their children and homes. In small business it is all about the people, their commitment and passion and that is true across the world.
On the first day of our visit we traveled about 3 hours west to visit the first small cocoa plantation. An innocuous little dirt track led from the road into the small farm. Don't know what i was expecting but I guess gates and a driveway? The bus just pulled to the side of the road and up we walked on this little track.
It seemed, after all these years of just reading books about chocolate production, the most amazing thing to be doing. Here I was walking the track to an actual plantation! There standing waiting was the farmer. I thought back over a 25 year career starting in chocolate and couldn't help but feel I had come full circle.
This small 3 acre cocoa bean plantation was owned by Attuah Ebenezer and his wife Mary Deede . Through a translator, we learned about the farm and the way the beans are grown, collected and sold. As it turns out these beautiful people speak lovely English and I learned that they have four children, two of which are living away from the home at a technical college studying motor mechanics. The couple have been on the farm for around 20 years.
Mary works on the farm with her husband. They also have several other plots of land where they grow other vegetables in order to provide a year round income (cocoa beans are only harvested twice a year). I think from memory they said they grow okra and a couple of other vegetables. Such beautiful and caring people. Such a pleasure to meet them.
Visiting a small plantation and its caring family was a true experience. It was a return to the heart of it all, where the chocolate journey begins.