Swapping coca for cacao
Although the organización internacional del cacao (Icco) assured in 2016 that seeds of this fruit could cease to exist by the year 2020, production for Colombia in the same year reached a historic figure as reported by the National Cocoa Federation, Fedecacao.
And everything is explained by the measures taken by many Colombian farmers even before the peace deal process with the guerillas had started.
The clearest example is the southwestern coastal province of Tumaco, Tablón Dulce that started replacing the coca plantations for cacao trees.
Six years ago this was a region full of coca plantations, illegal ones. Because of being a coastal province, it was a strategical place to grow and process coca.
With the years the farmers realized coca brought them more problems than benefits after all, to just earn in return some extra money. Instead, coca plantations made the traditional cacao plantations fell down in prices and affected many families that were already immerse in poverty.
The Tablon Dulce growers sell their harvests to Chocolates Tumaco, a foundation comprising seven community councils that receives financial support from the government’s Colombia Responde program.
Tumaco now has 14,000 hectares (more than 34,000 acres) planted with cacao trees, generating annual production of nearly 4,000 tons.
While most of Tablon Dulce’s output remains in Colombia, about 10 percent is exported to Europe and Chocolates Tumaco is preparing to ship 100 tons to Italian chocolate maker Ferrero.