I was so excited for our first farm visit, especially since it was cocoa. I’ve been passionate about fair trade cocoa for a long time and for the past 7 years I’ve committed to consuming only fair trade cocoa products. I’ve blogged about the wonderful crop before and why I am so passionate about it (check out blog), but now was my chance to see and hold a cocoa pod in real life and to eat it’s delicious insides.
In the early 2000’s a spanish NGO came into the community to build a school and helped the farmers realize that there was a huge market for their cocoa plants. In 2009, they had 10 members and right away build in initiatives for the youth and women of the community.
In 2012 they became a legal co-op and 2014 they sent 6.5 tons of cocoa beans to Norandino, getting paid 10 times the amount they would from conventional pricing. Forward to 2018 and they have grown that amount to 65 tons, because of the growth in farmer memberships.
During this time a group of women started making organic fertilizer for local farmers and at first struggled to sell their product, losing many members along the way. Now they sell to this cocoa co-op, making and selling 60 tons for fertilizer last year. These jobs have helped women get out of domestic violence and has empowered them to make an income and have more control in their lives.
A barrier this co-op faces at the moment is a new law the EU is passing in 2019 that states that cocoa can not go over a certain level of cadmium. If the beans do go over then they won’t get the fair price they have always been paid by EU buyers. At this point it’s not possible to get the levels down any lower and they belief this is just a way for EU buyers to pay less for Fair Trade cocoa beans considering the potatoes they sell to the EU has 20 times the amount of cadmium and price has not changed. This was something none of us had heard before but something the fair trade community will be keeping an eye on this year.
From the moment we rode in the back of a pick up truck to meeting farmers, their land and their cocoa crops, I was having fun, I was inspired, enlightened, educated and humbled.
Farmers and the women who run the fertilizer plant
I ate lot of the fruit before I took a photo.
German Salvador Carhuapoma. We visited his farm.
The farm is built on a hill.
This is where they ferment the beans.
Drying the beans outside on tarps.
Me holding a cocoa pod! Dream come true.