More than 70 percent of the world's cocoa supply is grown in West Africa, mostly on small family farms of less than 15 acres.
Just like family farms around the world, everyone works together to help make a living... tending the crops, feeding the animals and doing the household chores.
Life on a tropical farm is tough. Families barely scratch out a living. They grow their own food and make their own clothing. There's not much money left for toys, games, books or other luxuries. How much a family earns depends on many factors beyond their control, such as weather, plant diseases and world market prices for their crops. In most cases they live far from the towns where their crops are sold, and they have to carry their produce on their backs as they walk to the markets.
The cocoa harvest is a very important time. During harvesting season, children join their parents as the cocoa pods are collected and the seeds removed. Once the cocoa beans have been harvested, they are brought to the village to dry. Everyone works together, turning the beans over and over in the tropical sun.
The farmers carry sacks of dried cocoa beans to a cocoa merchant in a nearby town where the beans are graded, weighed and prepared for shipment. The payment the farmers receive is an important source of income for their families.