Are we running out of chocolate?Photography: Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR
There are many chocoholics
in the Netherlands.
We eat almost 5 kg
per head per year.*
Not only do we eat chocolate,
we also make a living from it.
Amsterdam is the largest cocoa harbour in the world. Every year, 600,000 tons of cocoa are transferred here, 20% of
the world’s supply.
While demand for cocoa is growing worldwide, supply stagnates.
Farmers can make more money from rubber or palm oil. Also, cocoa plantations are endangered
by climate change.
Chocolate may soon be
in short supply.
70% of all cocoa comes from West Africa. Half of that is grown by
some 700,000 cocoa farmers
in Ivory Coast.
Kragui, South-West Ivory Coast
Cocoa farmer Emile Ouedraogo has two wives and eleven children.
Ouedraogo’s cocoa trees are planted close together and he cannot afford pesticides.
His harvest is far less than the average of 450 kg per
hectare per year.
Ouedraogo is self-employed and doesn’t know any techniques to
improve his crop.
His harvest has dropped sharply because his plantation is
out-of-date and he can no
longer afford fertilizer.
In spite of their meagre economic situation, Ouedraogo and his family seem to live a carefree life.
Many small farmers find that their sons and daughters rather move to the city than take over
the cocoa plantation.
Ouedraogo sells his harvest
to a middleman.
The price he gets is often lower than the official one for farmers who are members of a cooperative.
Kragui, South-West Ivory Coast
Cocoa farmer Enan Abblé has
a wife and four children.
Abblé is an active member of
the Coopakra cooperative.
Abblé’s cocoa plantation is
roughly the same size as that
of his colleague Ouedraogo.
Thanks to a training organised by the cooporative, Abblé’s production is 50% higher than average.
For instance, Abblé now
makes his own compost.
Abblé and his wife Akissi Gbako made a deliberate choice to
have a small family.
Their oldest son is studying
law in the capital Abidjan.
Each year, Abblé delivers some 2100
kilograms of cocoa to the cooporative.
This cocoa is certified.
Despite his high yield, Abblé has
designated part of his
land for rubber.
Because cocoa is becoming scarce, chocolate giant Mars wants to encourage farmers such as Ouedraogo to increase their productivity, just as Abblé has done.
Together with development organisations, like Solidaridad, Mars provides courses in agriculture, as well as fertilizer and pesticides.The chocolate manufacturer and the cocoa farmers appear to have
a common interest.
All the cocoa goes to the
harbour of San Pedro.
The certified beans are stored in the sheds of cocoa giant Cargill.
Cocoa transfer in the
harbour of Amsterdam
Inland barges transport the cocoa to the ADM factory in Koog a/d Zaan, where it is processed into
And so the future of the Mars bar lies in the hands of cocoa farmers
around the equator.
At the Mars factory in the city of Veghel, 1400 employees see to it that 8.5 billion bars roll off the production line each year.
Now if cocoa would really
Then the chocoholic is left with
the chocolate jeweller.