The not-for-profit Cocoa Lela Association (CL) was established in 2011 and is based upon the successful model developed in Ghana. Our Liberian crew had an extensive training session for two weeks in Ghana. Soil samples were taken from all cocoa districts in Liberia; these samples were then analyzed to determine the exact fertilizer mix for the Liberian soil types. With the providers’ custom made cocoa fertilizer the right start for “cocoa for a better life” was a fact.

The Cocoa Lela Association

The Liberian associations’ operational headquarters is located in Monrovia. Cocoa Lela currently holds 2500 conventional farmers. Cocoa Lela works with farmers based in three cocoa regions; Bong, Nimba, Lofa. Through the organizational structure and field training on Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) farmers are prepared to work towards the “cocoa for a better life” internal standards. The next step is to audit and certify the farmers.

The association currently rents 6 warehouses. Liberia’s most important ports are in Monrovia and Buchanan. Cocoa Lela currently uses a warehouse in the Monrovian port to store her cocoa. This warehouse is owned by the Liberia Produce Marketing Company (LPMC). The association is planning to build its own warehouses close to the Buchanan port. This port is currently being extended to accommodate larger vessels and improve the infrastructure. Cocoa Lela prefers Buchanan, because it’s connected by railway to Yekepa where the cocoa will be collected from the countryside.

In Liberia there is hardly any governmental involvement in the cocoa subsector. The market sets the price of cocoa. In the past, Liberia was known for exporting low quality cocoa. Inferior cocoa from Ivory Coast was often smuggles into Liberia to be mixed with sound domestic cocoa. In November 2012, the National Cocoa Technical Working Group Liberia became a member of the ICCO. Its main goal being that the quality and quantity of Liberian produced cocoa improves and will not be discounted on the world market anymore.

Cocoa Lela will attract more farmers to the association by using the “cocoa for a better life” model. Ascot buys the cocoa directly from Cocoa Lela and makes sure that the cocoa will be delivered according to the international standards and corresponding prices. The first containers of good quality Liberian cocoa arrived in Europe at the beginning of 2013