What was one of the first exchange currencies several centuries ago is today one of the country’s finest export products. It is about Costa Rican cocoa, a product that in recent years has gained significant international relevance. Precisely, the company of Belgian origin, Puratos, highlighted the high standards of the national harvest in its fair trade initiative -fair trade- known as Cacao-Trace.
Notably, over the past decades, the international cocoa trade has come under public scrutiny following allegations of labor exploitation, primarily in Africa. Therefore, the emergence of different initiatives to guarantee a product that does not incur illegal practices, such as child labor.
In this sense, the European company implemented the program in our country at the beginning of last year. It has worked with cocoa producers in areas such as Guápiles and Limón, explained the regional director of Marketing, Evelyn González.
“(It is) one of the most outstanding initiatives in the region with the purpose of strengthening, technifying and improving cocoa production. “It is a fair trade program, created more than 7 years ago, whose purpose is to provide a sustainable supply of cocoa, offer value to the crop and train farmers so that the beans continue to have excellent quality”, added.
The spokeswoman explained that Costa Rican production meets the highest quality requirements. This represents development opportunities for local producers, in areas such as specialization in a luxury market.
It should be noted that, in 2019, the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) recognized the national bean as 100% fine or aroma, as it is also known. The harvest of this food dates from pre-Hispanic times, according to historical records.
The Puratos company program offers training for producers to improve their cultivation practices, the quality of the seed and the processing of the product, in various stages such as fermentation.
“As part of this purpose, producers receive automated production lines, in addition to obtaining technical support in the plantations and in post-harvest centers, which helps them diversify their income, increase the yield and production of their cocoa,” added Gonzalez.
The representative recalled that, for each bag with the Cacao-Trace seal, the company allocates 0.10 euros to an aid fund for countries with social disadvantages. According to data from Puratos, the total capture of cocoa carried out in Latin America is around 15%.
According to data from the Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer), Costa Rica ranks as the thirteenth most important exporter in the world, in terms of value. “The average price of cocoa exports from Costa Rica in 2016-2017 was $ 3,331 per metric ton and in 2017-2018 it was $ 3,321,” the entity recently stated in a press release. Those figures are above the average reported by the ICCO, which is around $ 3,000 per metric ton.
As of 2018, the main exporting country of fine and aroma cocoa is currently Ecuador, which represented 56% of the total tons exported worldwide. Followed by the Dominican Republic (19%) and Peru (12%), according to the most recent numbers from the Promoter.
Since 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock put into practice the National Cacao Plan 2018-2028 with the aim of rescuing this ancestral harvest. It should be noted that, in the 1980s, an infestation of the Monilia fungus devastated the country’s crops. Since then, efforts have been made to develop seeds that are resistant to this disease and that maintain their age-old quality.