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Narratives To Transform Trinidad & Tobago's Cocoa Industry

Featured at Inter-American Development Bank / Compete Caribbean and World Fair Trade Organization Europe

How is it even possible? In an academic research project at the University of Groningen, I investigated how digital storytelling could be used as a tool to foster sustainable development within marginalised communities. My research revealed a vast untapped potential within sustainable enterprises that could not only foster economic value through marketing strategies but also support communities at origin to amplify their voices and grant a glimpse into the authentic stories behind the people, their relationship to the products they cultivate, and their agricultural practices.

To bring my research to the next level, I left The Netherlands in January to explore digital storytelling over the coming six months within the local cocoa sector in Trinidad & Tobago. This initiative is spearheaded by Übergreen Organics and co-founded by the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) which is a private sector development programme that delivers innovative and practical solutions that stimulate economic growth, increases productivity, and fosters innovation and competitiveness. CCPF works in 13 countries across the Caribbean region. CCPF is a partnership between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Canada.

In line with novel insights of sustainability research, this initiative follows a transdisciplinary and ethnographic methodology that aims to combine knowledge across different sectors and disciplines. Thereby, my storytelling consultancy seeks to create authentic narratives about cocoa farmers within the Organic Fine Cocoa and Chocolate Cluster (OFCCC) in Trinidad & Tobago which acts as a catalyst for sustainable growth in the Caribbean. Within this context, digital storytelling is understood as the art of telling narratives with a variety of multimedia tools. It enables people to understand what we do as humans to make sense of the world and how we understand our connection with our surroundings – a perspective that is particularly relevant within responsible supply chains, where storytelling adds value at every stage of the chain, increasing the sustainable value creation for all actors involved.

Over the next few months, I will guide you through my storytelling journey in the cocoa industry and share the authentic stories about the people and processes behind fine-flavor cocoa in Trinidad & Tobago. Together with farmers, processors, and experts, we will create photographic documentaries, videos, and interviews to foster awareness about the region’s fine cocoa and chocolate industry and empower the communities to develop a sense of ownership and promote sustainable cocoa agriculture.

In this sense – see you, when I see you!

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