With an area of only 57,000 km2 wedged between Ghana and Benin, Togo is one of the smallest countries in Africa. It is a 500 km strip of land stretched along its main river Mono. Though small in size, Togo has several distinct climatic zones, from lagoons and palm-fringed beaches along the Atlantic coastline in the south and forested hills in the centre to savannah plains in the north. Kekeli cocoa grows in the vicinity of mount Agou in the south of the Plateaux region. The area is known for its warm tropical climate with an average of 26°C and over 1000 mm of rain per year. The wet season with more than a 50% chance of precipitation lasts five months, starting in May and peaking in September. Perfect conditions for cocoa trees to flourish. And they do flourish! Together with coffee, cocoa is Togo’s third export product and an important source of income for the country and its inhabitants. Silva is proud to feature Togo Kekeli, around and balanced cocoa with alternating flavours of buttermilk and chocolate mousse. This centrally fermented cocoa is a unique find in Togo, a speciality for adventurous chocolate makers ready to explore this undiscovered origin.
Plateaux Region is renowned for its beautiful natural environment with tropical forests and waterfalls. In the southern part of the region, close to the border with Ghana, is Mount Agou. Wit 986 meters it is Togo’s highest mountain. The slopes of Mount Agou and the surrounding hills are home to the smallholder farmers producing Kekeli cocoa. They intercrop cocoa with mango, banana, coffee and other crops under the canopy of the natural forest. Agroforestry systems like this protect the natural forests and preserve biodiversity. The farmers do not use pesticides or chemical fertilisers. The thick humus layer formed by acacia, teak and many other trees in the forest gives a specific flavour to the cocoa, adding to the exclusive ‘terroir’ of Kekeli cocoa.
The distinctive flavour profile of Togolese cocoa is drawing more and more international attention. Investments in agricultural practices and post-harvesting techniques are paying off: Togo cocoa is becoming a regular in the world of bean-to-bar chocolate makers. Togo Kekeli is from Forastero hybrids and Amelonado varieties. Its round and balanced flavour profile are characterised by alternating flavours of buttermilk and chocolate mousse. A subtle fruity freshness, hints of macadamia nuts and maple-like sweetness make Kekeli a very pleasant cocoa to work with.
The cocoa pods are handpicked by the farmers and are centrally fermented for 6 to 7 days at the facilities of the Kekeli cooperative. The beans are then dried on African beds for 5 to 8 days, depending on weather conditions, and packed in 70 kg bags. After a 120 km road to the port of Lomé trip, the beans are ready to be shipped to Antwerp.
Poverty is widespread in Togo, especially in the rural areas where – according to the World Bank – 69% of the people live below the poverty line of 2 US dollars per day. Being able to sell cocoa directly to the international cocoa market is very important for smallholder farmers. Kekeli is a cooperative, founded in 2019, and presided by Abra Benczedi, a dynamic and enterprising female cocoa farmer from the area. Kekeli – meaning ‘light’ – is one of the first cooperatives in Togo investing in centralized post-harvesting production improving the quality of cocoa considerably. Unlike most Togolese cooperatives, Kekeli is independent with 100 smallholder cocoa farmers, 30 % of whom are female. The cocoa is traceable up to the farm level. Kekeli provides training to its members to further improve farming practices and family income, it has fair trade certification and is in process of organic certification.
Region: Mount Agou, Plateaux Region, Togo.
Variety: Forastero hybrids and Amelonado
Flavour: buttermilk and chocolate mousse
Harvest: October-February, June-July
Post-harvest: Central fermentation, 6-7 days
100% traceable supply chain up to farm-level Exported from Lomé
100 smallholder farmers receive premium prices for quality and fair-trade certification
Forest and Nature
Forest conservation and protection of remaining forest fragments