GOLA RAINFOREST cocoa is produced by the Goleagorbu Cocoa Producers Organisation (GCPO), a newly formed umbrella association of 1871 cocoa farmers in Sierra Leone who live in the forest edge communities surrounding the Gola Rainforest National Park. Goleagorbu was chosen for the organization’s name as it means ‘we who live in the forest’ in Mende.
Gola Rainforest cocoa is the culmination of many hands at work. The UK based Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) initiated the push for a politically designated Gola Rainforest National Park, which then allowed the Gola Rainforest cocoa project to begin with eligible carbon credit funding. RSPB invited Twin Trading to work with cocoa farmers on the forest edges to form associations around conservation practices and a cooperative business model. The alliances help farmers to organize democratically around a viable economic opportunity in specialty cocoa and develop the skills necessary to succeed.
Goleagorbu farmers are trained in agroforestry techniques which promote habitat for birds, butterflies, chimpanzees, and other endangered species by sustainably integrating cocoa trees into the forest edges. GCPO also uses their own regional buying centers for finished cocoa beans to aggregate member-farmers cocoa beans for export. The buying centers themselves are revolutionary for farmers as they have not historically had control over pricing or even access to receipts when selling their cocoa beans to commodity traders. The producer organization has united chiefdoms and has already resulted in greater transparency, training and buying opportunities for its members, as its members actively restore and protect the surrounding rainforest ecosystem.