The Bitter Sweet Reality of Chocolate

As the condition of the land decreases due to attempts to increase cocoa yield, the only hope to ensure a safe supply of cocoa for the future may be to plant hybrid trees that have been bred to resist local diseases and produce more pods per tree. The relationship between private enterprises such as the world’s leading chocolate companies and the cocoa farmers needs to strengthen by implementing programs that will first benefit the lives of the farmers and therefore the profits of the companies as well.

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In the blazing tropical heat, cocoa trees typically grow among the shade of the rainforest. Early in the mornings, native cocoa farmers venture into the maize of intertwining cocoa trees and forest brush with machete knives to cut ripe pods off the tree, letting them fall to the blanketed forest floor. The women follow and collect the pods that will be broken and later cleaned out to gather their cocoa beans. Extracting, fermenting, and drying the beans is a communal practice that is the main source of income in these indigenous villages. After two or three weeks of harvesting and drying the beans, they are ready to be bagged and shipped to countries all over the world. Unlike almost all other major agricultural commodities, cocoa is still grown by small farmers that only own a few hectares of land each. With the demand for chocolate higher than ever, the daunting…

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