T.A.S Stores was established in the year 2000 by Amin A. Skaikay as a sole proprietorship, he used to buy cocoa and coffee from farmers and sell to exporters in Sierra Leone. In 2005, we started exporting our own products to Europe and at that time Sierra Leone’s cocoa was blacklisted because of quality issues. Within three years of operation, his company received the best cocoa quality award from his main client: Theobroma.
To accelerate the impact, we started expanding to the rural towns and villages and having our agents and branches scattered all over our operation areas mainly in the three producing districts (kenema, kono, and Kailahun). T.A.S Stores helped farmers and cooperatives with micro financing and micro-credit facilities to do the necessary farm practices before the crop year and that improved the relation and trust between the farmers and the company.
In 2013, we started certification, developed an IMS/ICS department as an internal control system for the company with only 2,000 registered farmers and since then we continued on promoting, training and facilitating farmers. T.A.S Stores now works with over 10,000 registered and certified farmers to maintain the value supply chain of cocoa and coffee in the world market.
As a leading export company in the country, our efforts were not only focused to increase the quantity of the cocoa crops in the country, but we also emphasized on improving quality. Today, TAS Stores exports more than 2,800 metric tons of premium grade cocoa beans annually. Our mission is to increase our market-share of Cocoa and Coffee exports from Sierra Leone while enforcing our Quality, Sustainability, and Responsibility Policy.
Navigating difficult terrains to transport quality produce
Our main operation areas
TAS Stores sources premium, certified organic cocoa and coffee beans from all producing regions in the country. Our extensive network of farmers, cooperatives, agents and partners makes us a leading producer company today.
To organic farmers in the producing districts, we are the link to manufacturers in Europe. For these manufacturers, we are a trusted partner, enabling them to successfully tap into to the growing organic market.
The Team Work
The farmers harvest and cut the outer peel of the cocoa pods open with long knives to collect the fruit pulp inside. This pulp contains 40 to 50 seeds, the cocoa beans. The beans are gathered in a cover basket and placed in a dark room for 5 to 7 days to Ferment. This natural process removes any of the remaining fruit pulp around the beans. During fermentation, the beans change from purple to grey to brown and develop their aroma. After fermenting, the farmer spreads the cocoa on a drying floor or a drying booth to reduce the cocoas’ moisture content.
When the beans are reasonably dry, the cocoa farmers bring their product to our agents (collection centers), or bring them directly to our own sourcing and exporting offices in Kenema, here our trained officers buy the beans based on their moisture percentage and quality, which are further examined by our internal auditors.
Each bag of cocoa beans is registered by the traceability team so they can be traced back to their respective farmer, and then transported to our warehouse in Kenema where our experts and specialized technicians further dry the cocoa beans to match export standards and grade them based on their quality. Once the cocoa is dry, graded and ready, the standardizing team fills them in 63 kg jute bags. These jute bags have ‘TAS STORES cocoa and coffee exporters’ printed on them by Pa Conteh, a 70 years old employee that can’t stop talking about football and politics. Once the filling and stacking is done, our trucks and trailers transport them to our ‘port of loading’ warehouse in Freetown where the bags are stacked for few days before export.
It is all about Team Work, the interaction and collaboration that flows between the various team members is what keeps us striving for perfection.
Processing cocoa beans