Cocoa Diaries Vanessa Ouga Dominique

Farm Lead
San Pedro, Côte d'Ivoire

Vanessa Ouga Dominique, 40, is one of two female farm leads working for a cooperative in San Pedro which has partnered with cocoa and chocolate companies since 2013 and includes around 900 cocoa farmers. In the role, she is responsible for 106 farmers in the area.

“I was given agronomist training, so now I can say I am an expert in cocoa. It covered how to manage a farm and what to do when it looks dead to bring it back to life. Now I make sure that Good Agricultural Practices are being used properly on the farms I am responsible for. If there is an issue, I will coach the farmer to help them to make improvements.”

The work she is doing is helping farmers to increase their yields while also taking care of the environment. “I’ve challenged myself to get as many farmers as possible to plant shade trees because it nourishes the soil and increases productivity, so it’s a benefit for the farmer as well. I want not only the farmers I work with, but all cocoa farmers to be part of this movement.”

Vanessa says she is very proud of her work. “You are valued by the community because when you go on farm you bring knowledge.” And she is paving the way for more women to consider becoming farm leads. “When I started four years ago I was the only woman in the area, but a friend saw what I was doing and decided to apply. Now there are two of us.”

I want not only the farmers I work with, but all cocoa farmers to be part of this movement.

Vanessa Ouga Dominique