Though Madagascar is the size of Texas, almost all cocoa farms are within a 50-kilometer radius along the Sambirano riverbed. (Its annual floods pull rich nutrients down to the soil.) Farmers use hooked tools called "lagafs"--sometimes attached to 20-foot poles--to pull ripe cocoa pods from trees.


For building a bean-to-bar chocolate company in one of the poorest countries in the world

Seventy percent of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa, but less than 1% of the world's chocolate is made there. Instead, farmers sell whole cocoa pods to the first of many middlemen who eventually export the cocoa beans to chocolate makers in Belgium or France. Tim McCollum and Brett Beach—introduced to Madagascar and each other while in the Peace Corps—founded Madécasse in 2008 to keep more economic benefit within the island nation. The company partners with 45 cocoa farmers in the Ezaka cooperative and a factory in Antananarivo to move from bean to bar in one month and then onto shelves in Whole Foods and boutiques internationally.

Photographs by: Livia Corona

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