On the Cocoa Trail in Ecuador - Part 2
Carla Veldhuyzen, Regional Coordinator for the Andean region, accompanied cocoa farmers from all over the region on a producer exchange to Ecuador – a great way for cooperatives to learn from each other. So what did they get out of their visit?
The first stop on our journey was Machala, where we were welcomed by Joaquin Vásquez, president of UROCAL. He told us about the organization’s nearly 40 years of history, their challenges and successes producing and trading cocoa and bananas. Then we continued our fascinating journey, visiting small producer organizations in South-western Ecuador. Farmers showed us the practices they use to increase productivity of the cocoa trees and control the quality of their product. We visited their tree nurseries and processing facilities and the famers chatted and shared experiences with their fellow cocoa producers.
Fltr. Wilbert Perez (COCLA, Peru), Martín Dominguez (Cepicafe, Peru), Oscar López (Acopagro, Peru) looking at plants in UNOCACE’s tree nursery.
In Quevedo we visited the governmental research institute INIAP, to learn all about the latest investigations on cloning, plague and disease management in national cocoa varieties.
Finally we arrived on Friday at Fortaleza del Valle cooperative in Calceta, an excellent example of Fairtrade making a difference. Their manager Berto Zambrano guided us around on their premises, where we could still see how they had started six years back with a couple of fermenting boxes in a corner and witness how they have been able to expand their business and get organized to sell the projected 650 tons of organic Fairtrade cocoa this year.
By the end of the trip, all the producers were really motivated to put their new found knowledge into practice. Many cocoa farmers in Latin American countries have struggled to compete against the lower priced West African cocoa. By learning how to improve quality, and to really market their top-notch cocoa, they can get better prices and find new market opportunities. These Ecuadorian producers have shown it is possible – now we really hope others will follow suit.
Enrique Cardenas (Fairtrade Liaision Officer), Berto Zambrano (Fortaleza del Valle, Ecuador) and Fredy Martinez (ASOCATI, Colombia) tasting chocolate.
Back in Guayaquil we celebrated World Fair Trade Day with lots of Fairtrade chocolate brought along by Fairtrade staff members Magali and Barbara from France and Belgium. They returned home well equipped with producer testimonies and insider knowledge to start promoting fine flavoured Fairtrade cocoa on their markets, and hopefully increase demand for Latin American cocoa.
Interested in sourcing Fairtrade fine flavour cocoa? Contact Carla Veldhuyzen van Zanten, Regional Coordinator for the Andean Region: firstname.lastname@example.org