Breaking Ground in Cameroon, Africa

Breaking Ground in Cameroon, Africa

Posted by Jeff Abella on

Moka Origins co-founders Ishan Tigunait and Jeff Abella planted Moka Farms in 2015 after working with the Himalayan Institute Cameroon (a Not For Profit Organization) for over a decade to spearhead health and educational initiatives in West Africa. Our farmland was a collective gift from the Cameroonian government and the Region’s tribal kings and became the genesis of our commitment to cultivating and hand-sourcing high-quality cacao and coffee while growing food crops for the local market.

Co-founders Jeff and Ishan pictured next to the Moka Origins Headquarters in Honesdale, Pennsylvania
"Our goal in establishing our own farms and partnering with farmers is to generate sustainable employment. We chose bean-to-bar chocolate and specialty coffee as our vehicle to do this."—Jeff Abella
Aerial overhead drone image of the farmland
Aerial overhead drone image of the farmland plot.
Aerial side view of food crop rows
Aerial side view of food crop rows.
Moka Origins farmfield of plantain and cacao trees
We plant our plantain and cacao trees in a grid.
Pictured left to right: Jeff, regional King, and Ishan
Regional king shows his support of the mission.
An auspicious meeting for Moka - Local chief pictured with his support staff
Local traditional chiefs eager to welcome the project.

Nestled deep in the mountainous Northwest Region of Cameroon, our cacao, plantain, and food crop farm is a paradise on earth. The valley, tucked between the great peaks of the mountains, produces a climate perfect for both coffee and cacao.

Picturesque landscape surrounding the farmlands
The farm is located in the Mbo plains and surrounded by mountains.
Cacao tree with ripening pods growing up the trunk of the tree
Cacao trees are grown in this valley, however there is a lot of room to improve the growing practices.
A handfull of coffee cherries
Coffee cherries are hand picked in Cameroon, ensuring only ripe beans are selected.

Starting From Scratch

Our initial venture onto this land required lots of creative problem solving! The secluded location is cut off from running water, electricity, and paved roads, making it essential to invest in infrastructure-related utilities before anything else. Access roads are poor or nonexistent, and the mountainous terrain can be very dangerous, particularly during monsoon season.

Because we aim to create jobs and not become dependent on mechanization, we made this effort by hand, a rare undertaking in the majority of today’s agricultural community. This process is slower, but from our vantage point, the results--employment, community growth, and the a greater sense of communal self worth--were all worth the cost.

A row of eager community members beginning the planting process
The community was eager to start planting.
Moka staff members pictured on a large fallen tree trunk during wet season
Rainwater management is an essential, ongoing part of creating a healthy farm.
Moka staff members posing after a meeting
A competent team of farm staff, agriculturalists, and agronomists formed.

We continued down this road by creating infrastructure essential for sustainable farm operations: a staff camp, solar electric system, tree nursery, well, river irrigation system, and an internal road network. In addition to promoting cash crops like cacao and plantain, one of our farm’s primary objectives is to create food self-sufficiency for our local community. This dovetails with the local farmers’ main goal of increasing their crop yields to earn a better livelihood.

A Better Livelihood

From seed to soil, root to plant, our hope is to tend this land in ways that create economic prosperity and the burgeoning of greater life cycles for its future. This project is not about controlling an economy or the absolute greatest profit from our land’s products: it is about creating a living thing-that which grows and is ever-changing-that can be independently sustained long into the future after we’re gone. This intention guides all we do; it gives us hope, momentum, and promise for the future.

Lovely smiles from Moka staff husband and wife after a day in the farm nursery

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