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Ecuadorian cacao farmers' efforts
In Ecuador, farmers who produce cocoa, the raw material for chocolate, have not been able to earn income to match its quality. This is because cacao is exported as raw beans and commercialized to generate great profits in Europe and other countries. Introducing the efforts of farmers to work together to handle everything from production to commercialization and sales.
A cacao producing area about 3 hours drive from Quito, the capital of Ecuador. An area where many indigenous people live. It is cultivated by traditional farming methods that utilize the power of nature to grow with various plants in the rainforest without using any chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Many seeds in the cocoa fruit. When this is fermented and then dried, it becomes a raw material for chocolate. The "national" cocoa produced here is said to be particularly fragrant and has supported the prosperity of the Ecuadorian cocoa industry, but has not benefited farmers. It is said that the middleman sometimes wanted to buy or stepped on the price.
Carlos Pozo, a cacao farmer, stood up to change this situation. Knowing that the middleman was selling cacao at double the price, he gathered farmers and formed a union. Carlos said, "In the cacao transaction, only the middlemen were profitable. We cacao farmers have always been frustrated."
Carlos and his colleagues bring the harvested cocoa beans directly to a chocolate factory in the capital, Quito, and outsource the production of the products. By not passing through middlemen, the income of farmers became stable. Twelve years before the union was formed, only 50 farmers participated. Now it has increased to 850 households. In the future, the union is planning the first local factory to make chocolate with their own hands.
Carlos and his colleagues are also trying to expand their overseas sales channels. On this day, Carlos met with an agent of a Japanese trading company to discuss the quality control required to export to Japan. "I want to launch this union's own brand and sell it as a high-class chocolate to Japan and other Asian countries," he said. Carlos also enthusiastically says, "The best chocolate will come from here. I want to make it a prosperous area that generates enough income for my family to live in." Carlos and his colleagues are also paying attention to the Ecuadorian government and have begun to support it.
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