Cocoa was introduced from Brazil into the island of Principe in 1822 and the first large-scale plantation started in 1852. The Diogo Vaz Roça, that Kennyson acquired in 2013, started back in 1880. Until 1910, the Portuguese colony of São Tomé and Príncipe was the world’s largest producer of cocoa, growing nearly 35,000 tons of high quality beans. In 1975, when São Tomé and Príncipe became an independent state, the land was was redistributed to the workers and divided into small parcels, but without any state assistance. In the early 2000’s, the islands produced less than 1000 tons of cocoa a year, leaving few prospects for the workers.
Diogo Vaz is a historic plantation in São Tomé and Príncipe, the “Roça” located on an exceptional landscape, in between the volcano (São Tomé Peak) and the Atlantic Ocean. Kennyson has been managing the plantation since January 2014, preserving the existing staff, improving its wages and living conditions. We are now expanding the workforce and bringing in our experience and knowledge from our successful campaigns in Africa.
We rely on the ancestral savoir-faire, passed on from farmer to farmer on the island, to which we combine modern methods and contemporary technology.
250 collaborators work directly on the Diogo Vaz Roça. The plantation supports roughly 1000 people, plus 4 large village communities that surround the plantation. On site, there is school (that has kindergarten and primary age classes), a medical clinic and a church.
Since 2014, we have been carrying out an ambitious replanting program, aimed at optimizing the production on the past plantation. Today, 150,000 cocoa trees have been planted on the 420 hectare farm (1038 acres). We chose to highlight the authentic varieties of cocoa already flourishing on the island. Our vision is to focus on the ones with greatest organoleptic qualities such as the Amelonado.
With the ambitious replanting program we’re aiming to produce 180 tons per year within 5 years, concentrating on rare and authentic varieties, prioritizing traceability and quality, at the expense of volume.
Persevering on our mission to preserve the land we cultivate as well as the people with whom we collaborate, we’ve recently obtained the Organic Certification for our cocoa beans on May 2017.
In addition to cocoa, there are also many varieties of fruits growing on the plantation: breadfruit, jackfruit, pepper, vanilla, papaya, mango, banana, coconut, ylang ylang …