As part of the initiative Cocoa for Peace, promoted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), CIAT’s research team Linking Farmers to Markets (LFM), Purdue University, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) visited cocoa-growing areas in northern Cauca, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and various municipalities in the Santander department, among others. In these areas, they have been in contact with producers groups and associations, indigenous organizations, community-based councils, service provider institutions, intermediaries, and several institutions and private companies in the cocoa sector, like Fedecacao, the National Cocoa Council of Colombia, Corpoica and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, who have shared their knowledge about this crop in Colombia through focal groups, semi-structured interviews, conferences, and other dialog scenarios. These scenarios have provided a space to discuss important and relevant topics for social, cultural, and economic consolidation of the cocoa sector.
The participants to these meetings were able to identify not only the competitiveness objectives of these cocoa-growing areas in Colombia – such as the Santander department – but also the cultural value inextricably linked to cocoa, as pointed out by the indigenous communities of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the leader of the Arhuaco community, and the afro-descendant communities of northern Cauca.
“We build without destroying; therefore, we must identify traditional practices and ancient ceremonies for growing cocoa to recover what has been lost. The Sierra is like a fridge, if it lacks something, it won’t work.”Hernan Villafañe
During the first round of visits of the Cocoa for Peace team, the diversity in the cocoa-producing areas has proved that, in order to design a strategy as a country, there should be differentiated strategies for each community at a subnational level, which in turn must be agreed upon and disseminated with all the stakeholders, acknowledging the value of the local cultural assets.
Field visit (Photo by: Fernando Rodríguez Camayo)
Hernán, commercializing during a visit (Photo by Fernando Rodríguez Camayo)
“Our land is our life, our riches. There we cultivate fruits, vegetables, and cocoa; there our hens live, etc. and we call it Finca Tradicional [traditional farm]. Since in our community we have small plots, we must be efficient, hence our interest to work in an orderly manner.”Armando Gómez
Last 28 and 29 October, the Cacao for Peace team presented a consolidated report of the information gathered with more than 40 representatives from the Colombian cocoa sector, who were also invited for briefings, in which all together they could analyze and validate the information presented. These meetings also aimed to foster a country-based thinking among the stakeholders, by promoting values such as inclusion and respect, and peaceful coexistence.
After the briefings, the Cocoa for Peace team carefully examined the results and outlined the steps forward within the methodological process described in the previous blog post.
CIAT, jointly with local and national partners, will be working to incorporate other cocoa-producing areas in Colombia, such as Caquetá, Tumaco (Nariño), and Arauca to support consolidation of the cocoa value chain in Colombia over the next 5–10 years.
Gustavo Mindineros, cocoa producer during the event in Bogotá (Photo by Fernando Rodríguez Camayo)
The Cocoa for Peace project is financed by:
In our next post, we will talk about a treasure from years ago that was rediscovered on the Pacific Coast during this experience.
The authors of this blog:
Researcher, Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area
Senior Researcher & Theme Leader of Linking Farmers to Markets