Client’s visit full of adventures!

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, by Michael Stamm

Gerold Suter from the Swiss chocolate company Max Felchlin visited Togo in November. It was his first visit after about 3 years – and an intense week full of surprises...

Besuch Felchlin in Togo

Since his last visit, the team of gebana Togo has changed quite significantly meaning that a more professional management is in place now. gebana Togo prepared a presentation to introduce the team and their current activities. They also informed about the scheduled meetings with the gebana team in Badou and Kpalime but also with the cooperatives Scoops Procab (kaplime) and Scoops Ikpa.

The day after the arrival, we drove to Kpalime where we visited a farm. After explaining the internal control system, one of our technicians showed how a typical farmer audit takes place. The client really appreciated the good work and the high quantity of information for certification purposes.

Great crop in perspective

There was a lot of rain between July and October. With a lot of rain, also the risk of pods with moist (they call it “pourriture brune” in French) is raising. But after visiting some fields, it seems that the rain helped the plants to grow good fruits instead of damaging it– so for this year the crop is predicted to be really good.

gebana Togo Meeting

Need for bio-insecticides

During our excursion, we quickly realized that the cocoa trees are very sensitive. First, it has to have the right shade but not too much. If there is no shade in the plantation, it leads to the moist pod and if there is no shade at all, there are a lot of mirides (insects).

Those insects are a problem for many of the producers and can seriously damage a plantation quickly. There is an urgent need to provide insecticides approved by the organic certification body. At the moment, we’re doing some test with neem plan.

Need for better fermentation practices

So far, the client was happy with the quality of the Togolese cocoa: The taste of the beans is good as there is a high note of cocoa with very few bitterness. However, we always want to improve and there is still work to be done. For example, do we want to train the technician in giving the best practices to the farmers (organize pod collection every week, do not ferment the moist pods, etc.).

gebana Togo Inspection

So, why did I mention that we had full of an adventure? Well, I forgot to point out that the car broke down in the mountains while driving to Badou and we had to wait for two hours in the night until we got rescued.

We also fell into the water to reach a plantation and ended up with shoes and trousers full of water.

And finally, we got hit by a truck! Luckily nothing serious, just some superficial damage to the car but still: a week that we will be remembered!

Overall, I think the client was happy about all the work the team did and regarding the general organization. Thanks the team of Togo for organizing this and thanks Gerold for your visit and for the chocolate – our farmers will remember them for sure!

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