Owners, Brian LoBue and Simran Bindra, have backgrounds in international development throughout East and Southern Africa.
While starting the Kokoa Kamili Cooperative they focused on three principles fundamental to the work: Tanzanian cocoa has the potential to be amongst the best in the world, cocoa has the power to drastically improve small shareholder farmers’ incomes, and always considering the question of implications of cocoa in economic development in the region and community.
Kokoa Kamili currently works with approximately 1,500 small shareholder farmers, most of whom farm between 0.5-2 acres of cocoa.
Kokoa Kamili pays a premium well above the market rate to farmers for their ‘wet’ cocoa, and conducts its own fermentation and drying.
By taking over the fermentation and drying process, Kokoa Kamili can produce more consistently higher quality cocoa beans.
This method gives farmers a reduced workload, along with greater compensation, and the farmers are paid immediately after the cooperative receives its wet beans.
ABOUT THE REGION
The catchment area borders the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, an area known for its abundance of bird and mammal wildlife.
It is most famous for the eleven different primate species, bird life, and is one of three remaining sites that support Savannah Elephants in a mountainous environment. Current estimates of 2,000 elephants reside in and around the Udzungwa area.
Prior to Kokoa Kamili’s Cooperative a single buyer dominated the area – the local arm of one of the world’s largest soft commodity trading houses. A sole buyer meant it had the power to set the price for cocoa farmers had little alternatives.
Historically, farmers in the Kilombero Valley received some of the lowest prices for cocoa in the country. In Kokoa Kamili’s first year alone Kilombero farmers received the highest prices in Tanzania for their cocoa.
FARMER FIELD NOTES
Cooperative Name: Kokoa Kamili
Owners Names: Simran Bindra & Brian LoBue
Nearest City/Region: Mbingu Village, Morogoro Region.
Closest town: Ifakara.
Terroir: Situated in the Kilombero Valley bordering the Udzungwa Mountains, surrounded by highly fertile land with good rainfall
Harvest Season: Main season June-November; peak season August-November.
Box fermentation: in locally sourced and constructed eucalyptus three tier boxes.
Typical fermentation length: Six days with turns on days three and five. 100% sun dried on raised drying tables. Combination of direct and indirect sunlight.
Butter Fat Content: 56%
Flavor Notes: Bright cocoa base with hints of cherry,and coffee, and lemon