Chocolate University 2010 students were able to make a Skype call half-way around the world and speak with Hillary Miller-Wise, the director of TechnoServe in Tanzania.
TechnoServe is an organization which provides help to businesses disadvantaged by locale and income. Its Tanzania branch aids small businesses in five industries in that country: cocoa, coffee, cotton, tea and horticulture.
Miller-Wise provided information about the system in Tanzania by which cocoa is sold. In Tanzania, after cocoa is grown by the farmers, is sold to primary buyers who then move the cocoa to the exporters. Often, primary buyers take advantage of the farmers and do not pay them as much as the cocoa is worth; TechnoServe is trying to address this information disparity to promote fair trade in Tanzania.
The situation is so tragic that many farmers have never even tasted finished chocolate, the fruits of their labor. Ms. Miller-Wise, through her experience with the cocoa industry, was also able to share important knowledge about the quality of the beans in Tanzania.
She said that the typical harvest season was mainly between February and July. Sometimes cocoa is available as early as January or as late as August, but that cocoa is generally of lower quality because it is harvested too early or late. Finally, Ms. Miller-Wise informed the students that travel was likely to be highly inexpensive inside of Tanzania, which is certainly a bonus.