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Satocao: Rejuvenating São Tomé e Príncipe’s Cocoa Industry

April 11, 2024

In the heart of the Gulf of Guinea, amidst the crystal-clear waters and lush landscapes, lies São Tomé e Príncipe, a small but culturally rich archipelago off the west coast of Africa. Beyond its stunning natural beauty, this island nation harbours a treasure deeply rooted in its history: cocoa. And at the forefront of reviving and transforming São Tomé e Príncipe’s cocoa industry stands Satocao—a cocoa plantation with a mission that goes far beyond just growing cocoa beans.

Reviving Abandoned Cocoa Crops:

The story of Satocao’s impact begins with its commitment to reviving abandoned cocoa crops. Over the years, many cocoa plantations on the islands had fallen into disrepair, and cocoa production had dwindled. Satocao took up the challenge of breathing new life into these once-fertile lands. They embraced the wisdom of traditional farming practices, respecting the environment and nurturing the land back to productivity. Their dedication to environmental preservation has set them apart as stewards of the land and champions of sustainable agriculture.

Unifying Farmers for a Common Cause:

One of Satocao’s proudest achievements is its ability to unify small and medium-sized farmers into self-sustaining village groups. These groups are the backbone of Satocao’s efforts in São Tomé e Príncipe. Beyond simply increasing cocoa production, they provide local communities with a sense of purpose and economic stability. Satocao’s commitment to harmonious relationships with these communities is evident in every step of their journey.

Smallholder Program and Reforestation:

Satocao has set ambitious objectives for itself: actively supporting a thriving farmer program and replanting over 300 hectares of cocoa trees, while also cultivating other high-value agricultural crops across 1,000 hectares. These initiatives are not only revitalising the island’s agricultural landscape but also creating a sustainable and diverse farming ecosystem.

Embracing Local Tradition and Expertise:

Satocao understands that success in São Tomé e Príncipe’s cocoa industry requires embracing the local tradition of cocoa cultivation, enriched by decades of experience. They’ve initiated a village outgrowers project to share technical expertise with small and medium-sized farmers in the community. Remarkably, over 99% of Satocao’s 200 employees hail from São Tomé e Príncipe, emphasizing the company’s commitment to local empowerment and capacity building.

A Cocoa Legacy:

Cocoa has a deep-rooted history on these islands, dating back to 1822 when Portuguese settlers introduced cocoa trees from Brazil to Príncipe. São Tomé e Príncipe once stood as the world’s largest cocoa producer, known for both quantity and quality. However, political and economic factors led to the decline of cocoa plantations over the years. By the time of independence, cocoa production had plummeted, but Satocao is determined to change that narrative and restore the islands’ reputation as a globally renowned cocoa brand.

Quality Control and Collaboration:

To optimise the flavours of its premium cocoa, Satocao employs traditional artisanal processes. They construct fermentation boxes and solar drying tables from wood, ensuring a high level of quality control over their supply chain and production processes. Additionally, the company collaborates with research institutions like the Center for Agronomic and Technological Investigation (CIAT) and the French Agronomic Institute (CIRAD) to stay at the forefront of cocoa innovation.

Organic Certification and Sustainable Farming:

Satocao proudly reports that over 503 partner-farmers from various communities are certified organic. São Tomé’s naturally fertile soil conditions reduce the need for fertilizers in cocoa cultivation, making it an ideal location for organic farming. The company also supports other small and medium holders in their journey towards obtaining organic certification, contributing to the growth of organic cocoa farming practices on the island.

Satocao’s journey to rejuvenate São Tomé e Príncipe’s cocoa industry is not merely a story of agricultural revitalisation; it’s a narrative of community empowerment, environmental sustainability, and quality craftsmanship. As this Swiss-European venture continues to bridge the gap between tradition and innovation, it paves the way for a brighter and more sustainable future for São Tomé e Príncipe and its renowned cocoa. Satocao is not just cultivating cocoa; it’s sowing the seeds of hope and progress for a nation and its people.

To discuss an order, please contact the team at teameurope@cacaolatitudes.com

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