For Marlene, who lived in a particularly violent area of rural Colombia, cocoa changed her life almost overnight. She was left devastated in debt when her husband was kidnapped and forced to pay her ransom. Marlene Santa Her Rosa Her Dell South On a small piece of land she inherited from her father, she planted three hectares of cocoa and has since been supporting her family economically through her safe and legal trade. I was able to support it. She has her two daughters and her one son, all of whom are currently pursuing bachelor’s degrees.
“Crops for Peace”
The reality is that small farmers, who are highly isolated in remote rural areas, have limited options for a stable income. The best legal option is cocoa. Cacao is an enduring commodity grown from very strong trees native to the region.
Agronomically, both illegal crops coca and cocoa require the same altitude and growing conditions to grow, ie between 0 and 1000 meters above sea level and a tropical microclimate with high humidity and temperature. In comparison, Colombia’s other largest export, coffee, is grown at much higher elevations, making it not a suitable substitute for farmers in coca-producing regions.
Cacao has been designated a “crop for peace” by the Colombian government because of its potential to reduce violence and deforestation. Helping farmers transition to cocoa farming is one of Rooker’s biggest challenges and biggest opportunities for his chocolate right now. As a productive and viable alternative to illegal crops, cocoa can provide rural areas with economic stability, educational infrastructure and most importantly peace and harmony.
Promoting economic empowerment
Cocoa farming offers a path to economic empowerment for previously conflict-affected communities. Through cocoa, farmers can break the cycle of poverty, gain access to financial institutions and take ownership of their own sourcing and pricing.
Colombia’s cocoa market is ripe for picking. Cocoa is in high demand globally, and according to the CBI, the global market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 6.8% from 2021 to 2028. It is currently the 10th largest producer of cocoa in the world and the 5th largest exporter of fine cocoa. Flavor cocoa and climbing. In fact, Colombia’s cocoa exports have increased by more than 400% since his 2011, indicating that more farmers are adopting the technology in search of peace.
However, any form of farming requires prior financial investment. Cocoa is no exception. If a community is struggling to make a living, the cost of new equipment, seedlings and fertilizers may keep farmers from growing another crop. Cocoa producers, government agencies and international organizations are therefore stepping up to help farmers set up new cocoa farms. The payoff is huge. Farmers are equipped with the tools they need to establish a thriving cocoa business that will help revitalize the local economy and establish peace and prosperity.
When farmers are just starting their business, it is especially important in times of uncertainty and change that manufacturers guarantee cocoa growers purchases of beans, regardless of quality, size or variety. We pay a premium for quality products, but we invest as much in our farmers as we do in our products, ensuring a fair price for every bean we produce. We know how important it is for them to be financially stable. That’s why we also offer training on how to maximize yields and improve quality so that every family’s hard work is rewarded.
But that doesn’t just mean paying the producers enough, or even on an ongoing basis. It also builds resilience to supply chain pressures, climate change and other factors by helping farmers and community members diversify their income sources. We invite participants of ‘The Chocolate Dream’, a collaborative sustainability plan, to participate in courses on entrepreneurship and economic independence, to increase creativity and sustainable income not only in agriculture. We encourage you to encourage
Promote social cohesion
Cacao farming is not something you do in isolation. We need your cooperation. This means that there are often multiple people working on one farm. This will help move the population back to rural areas, mitigate the impact of urban migration, and increase employment opportunities within disadvantaged communities. This is not only backed up anecdotally, as the World Resources Institute found that employment rates are rising for those fleeing conflict trying to get jobs on cocoa farms.
As more people move into rural areas, they can more safely explore a broad range of career opportunities, establish local law enforcement agencies, and increase school attendance and participation. In Colombia, cocoa is a legal soft commodity with a transparent and traceable supply chain, making the industry even more accountable, mandating welfare inspections and monitoring the number of local children attending school. I can.
In addition, it means that we can enrich our education system and offer specialized programs for at-risk children. For example, Tumaco has a significantly higher illiteracy rate than his national average of 17%. And until recently, only 26% of children who entered primary school completed secondary school. This means that young people here are more likely to engage in violent and illegal activities. But we are now, through Cocoa, and in collaboration with our local partners, the Ruka Foundation and Global Humanitalia, providing schools with access to professional teaching methods to improve literacy, educational outcomes, Improving social cohesion.
Collaboration for change
Economic and community development can only be ensured in remote areas through cooperation. Illegal activities are more likely to occur when governments cannot access certain communities. However, by working with the cocoa producers who buy cocoa, local organizations and international development agencies, these regions can transition to cocoa peacefully.
Consider, for example, the very remote region of Guerima. With no roads, community facilities or proper infrastructure, it takes him more than four hours by truck to the nearest town. For growers here, transporting cocoa from the region to the nearest manufacturing plant was a major challenge, preventing them from selling their crops efficiently. In cooperation with the Colombian Air Force, all cocoa in the region is now transported by Air Force aircraft. This means farmers don’t have to consider transportation costs in their cocoa prices.
Cooperation with international organizations can also help restore peace. USAID is researching cocoa as a tool for peace through its own projects. USAID funds research and projects to expand and replace cocoa production in Colombia and maintain peace in these communities. About 80,000 hectares are currently supported by governments, institutions and even other countries.
Through cacao’s amazing journey, we see lives transformed, communities empowered and the land healed. With the continued support and dedication of various actors across the value chain, cocoa continues to weave a story of hope and progress in Colombia, bringing peace and prosperity to all those touched on its extraordinary journey.
Julia Ocampo is Director of Sustainability at Luker Chocolate