Ondo state is one of the Southern States in Nigeria responsible for 60% of Cocoa produce in Nigeria.
Cocoa Bean is the third largest export from Nigeria after crude petroleum and petroleum gas. Even though it only represents about 2% of the nation’s exports.
According to the MIT’s Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), cocoa is among Nigeria’s top exports. The body also made emphasis that Cocoa exports are a $740 Million USD industry in Nigeria. After a decline in exports overall from 2011 to 2016, experts believe the nation has recently experienced growth and increase of the local cocoa crop.
According to several researches online, Nigeria is one of the top producers of cocoa in the region, after Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Despite being one of the top producers of cocoa in the world, many experts believe that Nigeria still isn’t producing to its full potential. This might be due to poor farming processes or type of land in which the seed is planted.
The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) funded a program with the partnership of several chocolate confectionery companies to assist some farmers in getting the resources needed to maintain their farms. This assistance includes training farmers on better farming practices, educating them on pesticide application and providing training in other trades, such as soap making, to enable farmers balance their income during cocoa off season.
However, cocoa bean is used for chocolates, beverages, etc. Imafon Community is one of those communities blessed with Cocoa Plantations. Cocoa is one of the community’s means of livelihood. Where cocoa is processed and removed from the Cocoa pod husk, the pod is jettisoned and left to waste. We empower rural communities to be self sufficient through transforming their local waste into value and cocoa pod husk is one of such waste in Imafon Community.
Imafon community and other rural communities have struggled to put in place the strategies and institutions that can help build local assets and create wealth that stays local.
Looking into how the women and girls can earn a sustainable livelihood through cocoa pod, we decided to empower the community women and girls on how to transform the Cocoa pod husk seen as waste into African Black soap. 15 women and girls from Imafon community and neighboring communities are undergoing a four months training on Making Black Soap from cocoa pods. During the training they are also taught how to market these products that will not only help the participants earn but also give them an entrepreneurial spirit that will be passed onto other girls and women from different communities.
If recognized and well managed, women and girls would have the ability to contribute to the overall economic growth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. It is true that rural areas are marginalized but they can responsibly make provision for the nation with different valuable goods such as healthy and affordable food, different products from nature, different types of renewable energy, forest produce, spaces for recreational purposes etc.
Our Vision for this project is to see a group of Women and girls sustainably able to cater for their families and help with the needs of the community through “Cocoa Pod to Black Soap” Women Cooperatives while also becoming leaders for sustainability in their communities.
Together we can create various approaches to develop rural areas to build multiple forms of sustainable wealth that will serve the good of a larger audience that will also create a highly driven opportunity for poor individuals, households and even other neighboring communities everywhere.
Without the support of our donor, World Connect, our vision to empower Imafon community women and girls to be self sufficient through transforming Cocoa Pod to Black Soap wouldn’t have been possible. Individually we are strong together we are unstoppable.