LYF Launches DRC Cocoa Partnership

The Lorna Young Foundation (LYF), with our partner, the Award-winning gourmet chocolate and conservation brand Original Beans, is launching a ground-breaking new initiative with women cocoa farmers in one of the most conflict-torn areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This new venture has been made possible following our successful joint application to the UK Government’s DFID, Food and Retail Industry Challenge Fund (FRICH).

The LYF will be working with Dutch chocolate company, Original Beans, to develop an eco-positive chocolate product with women cocoa farmers from North Kivu to address deforestation. The LYF will establish a radio, SMS, Multi-stakeholder platform on conservation cocoa, to deliver training and information to over 10,000 cocoa farmers in the area.

The project is located in Virunga National Park, situated in North Kivu, DRC, and registered as a protected area, biodiversity hotspot and World Heritage site. For decades, poverty, migration and deforestation around Virunga Park into North Kivu and Oriental Province have been entrapped in a vicious cycle. Movement of displaced populations and poverty-driven subsistence farming has led to rampant slash and burn of old-growth rain-forests.

This project aims to create the first eco-positive gourmet chocolate from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which addresses deforestation in Virunga Park and delivers poverty reduction through the production of high-quality cocoa.

In the DRC, this project will establish a holistic model for reforestation activities and cocoa expansion in Mid and Northern parts of Virunga, adopting a REDD-like approach that uses GIS mapping-informed replanting, farmer enrolment programmes, nursery infrastructure and technical support and extension outreach to some 10,000 smallholder farmers using radio/SMS platforms. Locally, we will collaborate with conservation institutions to reduce deforestation rates in critical forest zones, by driving sustainable land management practices and incentivising quality cocoa production working closely with 2 women’s cooperatives in Virunga Park. This will improve farmer incomes, and slow the slash and burn cycle; the recognised most cost-effective measure against global climate-change.


  1. This project will support local women’s cooperatives in Virunga Park to produce quality cocoa, undertake tree planting activities and improve land management practices, resulting in a higher value, eco-positive product which addresses deforestation.
  2. The project will deliver agricultural extension, cocoa market information and technical support to a targeted audience of 10,000 smallholders in the region, through  the delivery of agricultural extension information, using radio, SMS and multi-stakeholder platforms.
  3. The content will be generated by female smallholders in two cooperatives, the information generated by the network is just as relevant for all smallholder farmers in the Virunga Park region.

About Original Beans

Pursuing their mission ‘The Planet: Replant It’ Original Beans works in some of the ecologically richest, economically poorest regions in the world to produce chocolates found on the menus of Michelin starred restaurants. For every Original Beans bar consumers buy, local cocoa farmers plant one tree that can be tracked on Business Week has called Original Beans a company that is ‘making the world better through chocolate.’

One Comment

  1. G Lou G
    Posted 26/07/2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    VERY NICE INDEED to see a focus on ethically traded cocoa in DRC!! A lot of the fair trade press tends to focus on a tiny group of producers. Very important to see things out there on the ground which are working to being attention to different groups of producers. What an excellent story and what a coup!

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