We believe that, when cocoa is grown according to sound ecological principles, it not only produces delicious chocolate, it can also contribute to a healthy environment and a better future for the planet.
Some of the most productive (and profitable) cocoa plantations in the world use substantial quantities of water (for irrigation), agricultural chemicals (as fertiliser or pesticides to control pests, diseases and weeds) and labour (often under-paid and/or family labour). We have intentionally developed a ‘low input’ system that keeps the cocoa healthy by mimicking, as far as possible, the natural growing conditions of cocoa, as an understorey shrub in the forests of Latin America.
We use - and advocate the wider use of - mixed-species agroforestry systems because they are inherently more ‘resilient’ in the face of droughts, heavy rainfall and other extreme weather associated with climate change. Maintaining the cover of trees and other vegetation, and building up organic matter in the soil, encourages water to seep into the soil (rather than running off and causing flooding) and reduces the erosion of topsoil (maintaining fertility for the crops, where it is needed, and reducing the silting-up of both freshwater and marine environments). Keeping a mix of native plant species among the crops promotes biological control of pests in the crop and sustains a healthy diversity of native species of insects and birds in the environment.
We use a bare minimum of irrigation – especially low-volume, drip irrigation or hand-watering – to keep alive seedlings in the nursery and new plantings on the farm during drought periods.
Wherever possible, we use natural fertilisers (manure and compost) and recycle nutrients on the farm. However, we are not fully ‘organic’ because, to remain viable, we have had to use small quantities of agro-chemicals, especially in the establishment of the crop or to deal with occasional pest outbreaks, for instance in the nursery or on newly grafted trees. You can rest assured, however, that there are no traces of chemical residues in the cocoa or chocolate we produce and no chemicals are allowed to run off into our creek or into beautiful Savusavu Bay.
If you have any concerns about the use of agri-chemicals or are interested in sustainable production techniques more generally, please talk to our team – we love to discuss and debate these issues!