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March 20, 2002
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Ecological activist Prince Charles, who has taken more than his fair share of knocks for his “alternative” convictions, looks set to see his latest venture bring sweet rewards to one corner of the South American rainforest. The Prince, a keen horticulturalist whose Highgrove estate is run along organic lines, has just bought up Guyana’s first crop of organic cocoa – the result of an idea he had during a visit to the country two years ago.

It will be used in the manufacture of the Prince’s Duchy Originals organic chocolate. While flying between the capital Georgetown and the Iwokrama rainforest area in 2000, Charles noticed patches of overgrown cocoa plantation scattered throughout the dense jungle. Seeing the potential for the plantations, many of which had been left untended for over 30 years, to be used to produce organic crops, the Prince approached President Bharrat Jagdeo with the idea.

The result was a co-operative formed between 26 Amerindians farmers – some of the nation’s poorest citizens – and the National Agricultural Research Institute. Although the first harvest is tiny, it is expected to grow over the course of the next ten years and other communities are already planning to raise their own organic produce helped by funding from the British government.

Speaking to Britain’s Daily Telegraph the Prince said: These Amerindian farmers have blazed a trail which other farmers in Guyana are likely to follow in months ahead. Word is getting around to other farming communities.” Through his Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation – which is funded by Duchy Originals – the Prince sent the farmers a computer, which included a fax, so they could keep in touch with the outside world. Experts were sent in to teach the farmers how to store and ferment the beans, and to ensure that the Amerindians’ produce qualified for organic certification.

Photo: ©

A keen organic producer himself, Prince Charles recognised the potential of Guyana’s abandoned cocoa plantations when he visited the country two years ago. The Prince's input and support have allowed some of the country’s poorest citizens to launch a whole new agricultural project

Photo: ©

Guyana's first crop of organic cocoa will be used in the manufacture of the Prince's Duchy Originals organic chocolate

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