The Ivorian Axel Emmanuel Gbaou, producer of the “Best chocolate in the world”

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Axel Emmanuel Gbaou at the laboratory in the village of Abbé-Bégnini, north of Abidjan, in April 2022, where the cocoa beans are shelled before being transformed into chocolate in his laboratory in Cocody, in the Ivorian economic capital.

Axel Emmanuel Gbaou talks about cocoa as good wine. “This has almost no bitterness, the floral aromas explode in the mouth”, delights in munching one of the beans that dry on the plots of Ambroise N’Koh, a renowned cocoa planter in Azaguié, north of Abidjan, the Ivorian economic capital. He buys a ton of raw materials from her every year. “Its cocoa is organic, agro-pastoral, it is exceptional”continues the craftsman.

Demanding chocolatier, Axel Emmanuel Gbaou works with cocoa farmers who are certified organic, fair trade or who have adopted good agricultural practices. He thus identifies the “Good vintages” depending on “Terroir”, rainfall or even the altitude of plantations. A need that today allows it to produce quality chocolate bars, award-winning and sold all over the world: mainly in the Ivory Coast, but also in the United States, France and Germany.

Read also In Côte d’Ivoire, the cocoa crisis is hitting farmers hard

In March, his chocolate from Daloa, a city in the western Ivory Coast, was awarded “Best Chocolate in the World” at the Paris Agricultural Show. “A chocolate from the forest area intense in cocoa”, describes the creator of the brand Ivorian Chocolatier. According to him, this reward is more that of the planters and processors he has trained in this region of the cocoa loop. And it comes to greet the entrepreneur’s approach: including planters’ wives in the brown gold value chain. “At first I tried to work with men, but it didn’t work. The ladies are more organized, more structured and do the work from the heart “observes.

“Cocoa built our country”

Since 2016, Axel Emmanuel Gbaou has trained 2,000 women in different cocoa growing areas of the country. In the village of Abbé-Bégnini, north of Abidjan, there are a dozen shelling dried beans. Then they sell them to the chocolatier, at least 3,000 CFA francs per kilo (4.58 euros), or about four times more than the market prices. “We are the first cocoa producing country in the world and we have one million farmers living on less than a dollar a day. It is an unsustainable situation in the long term. “he says to explain his approach.

Read also: “The challenge is to increase agricultural production in Africa”

Axel Emmanuel Gbaou then completes the transformation in his laboratory in Cocody, Abidjan. But now the women of the village also produce their own finished products, which provides them with additional income. “We produce powder to extract cocoa butter. And then we make soap out of it and sell it on the market. “, explains Eliane N’Guessan, president of the village association. The women of Abbé-Bégnini would like to have even more equipment and premises, to transform cocoa into chocolate and “Do even better” like Mr. Gbaou.

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