After two months in the field and 600 Kg of fermented and dried cocoa, we have some data to report.
- The idea works.
Based on the research materials and availible best practices we were pretty sure that the idea of micro-fermentation at source would work. There were very few variables that we were adding to years of established traditions.
(the cut-test reveals the inner values)
We knew from studies in Latin America that the temperature increase in batches between 25Kg and 50Kg was the best. In larger batches the bacteria takes longer to spread evenly through the mass.
In smaller batches there isn’t enough critical mass to preserve the heat generated from anaerobic fermentation.
(dialogue and sharing of experience)
- The idea is loved
After participating in the prototyping session a local community have decided that they want to start working with us as soon as possible. Being farmer centric in our approach, it has always been our aim to create a fairer and more profitable world for these valuable members of our community. The warmth and openness with which they have treated us has been humbling.
120 Farmers in one region, with an annual production of between 600 and 1000 tonnes now call us the “source fermented” guys. The immediate benefit in quality increases, cost savings and labour savings is very apparent to them. Now we have to deliver on their trust to create the facility to handle 5 tonnes a day.
The farmers above brought their cocoa, fermented according to traditional practices, to compare quality. They were convinced of the cooko benefit!
(The SOURCE of source fermented)
- The idea is bigger than us
One of the key elements about cooko that excites investors and industry experts, is the way it reorganises the value chain and creates new, value aligned intermediaries.
This will only succeed if we are able to weave the network of support around the core service:
– moving unbanked rural farmers onto mobile money platforms (as the farmers requested)
– creating new micro-logistics suppliers to move goods and services upstream, and fermenting beans downstream
– an open digital platform for transparent “pay, book and claim” traceability that can indicate labour conditions and environmental standards
– most exciting for us will be the social franchise model for mini-fermentation centres where the local women can create a job rotation to share the formal jobs and incomes across the community
Yesterday I was challenged by a potential investor about the unintended consequences of making jobs redundant. My question was: “the jobs currently filled by slave labour and children?” When we talk about the knock on effects in this industry it is always important to remember the benchmark that is being challenged.
Augustine is a data scientist at heart. He has cherished and looked after every one of the 24 thermometers that have tracked our prototyping batches. Noting all the changes in temperature, where we exceeded expectations and where we needed to learn more.
In every village we have taken farmers on the journey. Helping them challenge generations of “received wisdom” and learning new ways to improve quality.
We love the data, yet data is only a reflection of reality. When we challenge the existing systems, we can deliver results the data never predicted!
Now the focus is on challenging the rest of the industry’s received wisdom about how farmers can be treated, included and rewarded. We are actively looking for people to buy our expected 1000 tonnes of 1st Mile Traced cocoa in season one. This is a pioneering moment.
We welcome the pioneers!