From July 22 through July 31, Dr. Tom Neuhaus, President of Project Hope and Fairness and Dr. Deanna Pucciarelli, Assistant Professor at Ball State University, visited potential sites for a cocoa study center, villages that would be impacted, government officials, and university faculty and administration.
We gave an all-day seminar about the cocoa study center at the University of Buea in Buea, Cameroon. The Dean of Agriculture gave introductory remarks. The following day, we visited the Ekona Research Center, located half an hour from the university. The director of the research center offered us three buildings that had been abandoned by the USAID in the early 90s. We determined that the three buildings, which are in excellent shape and would require maybe $10,000 of cleaning, painting and perhaps plumbing, would serve to house students, for administrative offices, and for housing the bean-to-bar chocolate machinery.
We also visited two villages that will be working with us: Munyenge (near Muyuka) and Monatele (near Yaounde.) Our plan is to encourage bean-to-bar small-scale production in order to encourage small business on both sides of the Atlantic. By teaching villages how to make chocolate and hot cocoa at our center, more of the value chain stays in the country of origin. By teaching Americans/Europeans/Asians at our center how to make chocolate in small batches, we take chocolate into the realm of small scale production--which has already happened with coffee and wine.
Our next step is to raise $65,000 in order to purchase the equipment necessary to start teaching bean-to-bar technology. This equipment will be housed temporarily in the Department of Food Science & Nutrition at California State Polytechnic University, and then shipped to the new center at Ekona.
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