Farmers from the Guatuso Agro-environmentalist Cacao Producers Association (ASOPAC) of Alajuela, undertook the effort for an area of 50 hectares sown in a traditional organic manner free of agrochemicals.
The plan is supported by the Kiwa-BCS Certification Agency of Costa Rica, within the framework of the “Indigenous and Peasant Agrobiodiversity Program in Central America (PAICC)” managed by the Indigenous and Peasant Coordinating Association of Community Agroforestry of Central America (ACICAFOC) with financing from the German Ministry of Cooperation through the KfW Bank.
According to Sergio Coto, ACICAFOC Technician in Costa Rica, the change from conventional agriculture to organic methods is intended to “increase productivity and competitiveness by improving the markets for cocoa cultivation.”
“This is a completely comprehensive initiative that includes the increase of agrobiodiversity in the plantations, taking advantage of the Agro-Forestry Systems with the sowing of varieties of fruit trees and timber species, technical advice for the management of the plantation and post-harvest, the preparation of natural fertilizers, among other issues, to help the producer in quality, volume and records for adequate production“, indicated the representative of ACICAFOC.
Each of the 21 beneficiaries of the Program received 25 sacks of natural fertilizer to fertilize the cocoa plantations and 14 species, including fruit and timber trees, to be planted among the same cocoa plantations.
“The objective of the project has as its final goal that the agroindustry of fine and aroma cacao boosts the family economy of Guatuso through the agroecological establishment of new plantations, the sustainable management of current ones, as well as the construction of a collection center for the fermented and dried cocoa, whose final destination is the national market and potentially the international market,” said Yanory Arguedas, in charge of the plan at ASOPAC.
Humberto González, Manager of Kiwa-BCS for Central America, indicated that the change in Guatuso is a “clear sign” of the permanent growth of sustainable agriculture both in the Isthmus and in the rest of the world.
“This is a movement that started 25 or 30 years ago in Europe and the United States. Currently in Latin America we see that more and more consumers are inclined towards these products and increasingly value healthy eating styles”, highlighted the Manager of Kiwa-BCS in the region.
According to the Foreign Trade Promoter, 40 percent of the chocolate produced in Costa Rica is generated organically. In the Dominican Republic that figure reaches 92% and in Bolivia 45%. “The experience in Guatuso is extremely valuable because it shows how an alliance between various actors can generate a positive change in the standard of living of farmers”, González said.
The Procomer study indicates that between 2014 and 2017, world organic cocoa production increased by 18 percent, a sector that was led by the Dominican Republic (41%), above the Congo (14%) and Sierra Leone (11 %).