Sowing cocoa and peace in the country

-A A +A
March 21, 2017

Sowing cocoa and peace in the country

APC-Colombia gathered in the same scenario several actors of the cocoa value chain in the country, to make them consider the sector´s challenges regarding the building of peace economies and the strengthen of territorial competitiveness.

Sowing cocoa and peace in the country

The fact that a tiny seed can change the reality of a whole community is the evidence that in Colombia everyday hope and progress are sown. This is how it has been shown by hundreds of families who found in cocoa an opportunity to stop growing cocaine and start working with legal farming, that over time has allowed them to live a life far away from violence.

This power to change has had an impact in each one of the cocoa string links, which goes from the farmer, sellers, customers to all those who are involved in some way or another. Currently, there are around 38.000 cocoa sowing families in the country whose work is supported by several organizations concerned with the value to ensure them optimal working conditions, strengthen their capabilities, and offer them economic sustainability.

In this context, the Colombian Presidential Agency for International Cooperation, APC-Colombia, created the counterpart program “Support for the strengthening of the value chain of fine cocoa and aroma, as an economic alternative for peace”, which benefits nine members (Bio trade fund Colombia, Business incubator Colombia Solidaria-Gestando|CCA, Chocolate Colombia, Chocolate Tumaco, Red Cacaotera, Corporación Econexus Colombia, Swisscontact, Asocama y Coprocaguamuez).

The goal of this program is to ease and strengthen the growth of premium cocoa, fine and with aroma, in a sustainable integral way which allows to decrease poverty and to improve life quality of the farmer families, as an economic alternative for the post conflict, based on the conservation and sustainable use of the biodiversity in Colombia.

With the aim to socialize and think over the apprenticeship gained in several projects involved in the program, and to listen to international experiences in order to enrich the knowledge about cocoa, APC-Colombia together with Econexus Colombia Corporation organized the event, “The cocoa, an inclusive business to build peace: exchanges and challenges”, which gathered in the same scenario farmers, commercial agents, public institution involved in its consolidation, projection, guild sector, agro experts and privates.

To accomplish with this objective, six places of dialogue were organized in six working tables addressed to production, research, commercialization, institutional support, harvest and post-harvest and technical assistance topics, where the assistants had the opportunity to exchange experience and knowledge from their respective realities.

Among the leaders of change who participated we can found Hernes Klinger, from Chocolate Tumaco association with 5.000 cocoa producers. They are working in a project with APC-Colombia named “Transport implementation and handling for cocoa”, which aims to offer these families four cable track systems and two conveyor belts, in this way they don´t need to carry 30 kgs bags weight on their shoulders during one hour journey. “For us this experience with APC-Colombia has been beneficial for our community, this has allowed us to be more efficient and competitive in the market”.

In the same way Liliana Jiménez attended the meeting, she is the president of Proasogrago, a Nilo organic producers organization located in Cundinamarca, to whom “APC-Colombia’s support has been invaluable because as we are organic cocoa producers we can’t transform our cocoa into whatever plant because it can cause cross contamination, and the consumer will lose the organic traceability of what we offer, this thing forces us to have our own plant and thanks to APC-Colombia resources we are in the process to certify it”.

Liliana is also the person in charge of promoting Colombian cocoa after being selected between 600 women to become María del Campo. She will represent the 38.000 cocoa-farmer families and will show the goodness of the cocoa (taste, aroma and quality) grown in the country.

Natalia Ochoa was also with them, she is the executive director of Asocama, which gathers 250 cocoa producers, and they receive technical help in the field until the commercialization. In her words working with APC-Colombia “has been an incredible opportunity because it has opened us doors to work with other organizations which notice our compromise with cocoa-farmers families”.

Both of them as well as the rest of the assistants had the opportunity to listen to the conference “Cocoa challenges and perspectives, from the international associative experience”, in charge of Lourdes Páez, co-founder of the Ecuador Chocolate academy, with 20 years expertise in environment, rural development, economic growth and solidarity trade. She shared Ecuador´s experience in cocoa value chain, affirming that it´s a replicable case here in Colombia because “we share common elements, which make possible to create pacific territories with local incomes possibilities, where small producers can have a decent life”.

Her participation ratified that the articulation of different actors is a key to generate territorial sustainability opportunities. As it was mentioned by Alejandro Gamboa, General Director of APC-Colombia during his talk, he focused on the importance of “working together to make our results and impacts beneficial for us as a country and to allow our cocoa to be positioned worldwide, as it has been achieved by other products like coffee or flowers”. In the same way, he ratified the will of the agency to continue with the cocoa program during 2017.