Cocoa, that small grain with multiple properties and a thousand-use raw material, transcends the culinary, food or cosmetic field to become an agent of forest conservation in Ecuador.
In addition to being the first exporter of cocoa beans from America, Ecuador this year became the pioneer in the export of deforestation-free organic fine aroma cocoa.
“gold nugget” against climate change
Known as the “gold nugget”Cocoa is one of Ecuador’s main traditional export products, grown mainly by small producers.
80% of the crops are concentrated in the provinces of Guayas, Los Ríos, Manabí, Esmeraldas, El Oro and Santa Elena, while the rest is distributed in Chimborazo, Bolívar, Cotopaxi, Pichincha, Azuay, Sucumbíos, Orellana, Napo and Zamora Chinchipe.
Precisely the Association of Small Organic Agricultural Exporters of the South of the Ecuadorian Amazon (Apeosae)located in Zamora Chinchipeexported last January 3.8 tons of cocoa free of deforestation to Belgium.
Production and shipping were arranged thanks to the ministries of farming and of Environment that, with the support of United Nations Development Program (UNDP)execute the Comprehensive Amazon Forest Conservation and Sustainable Production Program (PROAmazonía).
To address climate change -specifically deforestation and forest degradation-, PROAmazon carries out actions to transform production systems into more efficient and sustainable models that reduce pressure on natural resources.
Thus, in Zamora Chinchipe worked with 38 producers who own 347 hectares, of which 106 correspond to native forest in conservation.
To them, it provided technical assistance and support to implement good agricultural practices, used accessible technology for use on cell phones and an open source application to map the farms from which the deforestation-free cocoa exported to Belgium came from.
That first pilot shipment for the Belgian firm “Silva Cocoa” -dedicated to obtaining cocoa beans of the highest quality in the world- has led to a promise to purchase another seven tons of cocoa.
In addition, it opened negotiations for other products, such as deforestation-free coffee with the firm “Lavazza”from Italyrevealed Katya Ortizof PROAmazon.
“Improving the quality and performance in current production sites through training, field schools, associative strategies and commercial linkages, we prevent the agricultural frontier from expanding further”he explained.
The fundamental axis -he added- is certification and technological systems (traceability) so that buyers know the origin and evolution of the product in each of its post-harvest stages, one of the requirements implemented by the European Union (EU) for your purchases.
The Traceability System is an initiative developed with the support of the European Committee for the Training and Agriculture (CEFA)the Department of agriculture and the German Cooperation (GIZ)within the framework of a program financed by the EU, which allows organizing information on products, associations of agricultural producers and their collection centers in order to trace their production chain from collection to sale.
The information recorded by this traceability system includes references of the producer, socioeconomic information and location of the farm or parcel, highlighting the data on free deforestation since 2014.
It “with the purpose of identifying agricultural areas that have not cut down forest to increase their production and qualify as deforestation-free production”said Ramiro Jaramillomanager MJTECcompany that created the traceability software.
Precisely Jaramillo, delegates from the Ministry of Agriculture and PROAmazonía will share, between tomorrow and Thursday in Bogota (Colombia), their experiences at the event “Regional exchange of deforestation monitoring tools in the production of Amazonian cocoa”.
“We can work together to generate quality and environmentally friendly products”asserted the manager of MJTEC, convinced of the importance of expanding forest conservation mechanisms “in a simple and accessible way for everyone”.