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The sweet cocoa flavour of hope

In the midst of a pandemic, selling products at a fair price is a considerable challenge for farming families, for whom a sudden drop in income can quickly put their food security at risk. Fortunately, with the support of SOCODEVI, in Colombia, the outlook is different for thousands of cocoa producers who are continuing to earn an income thanks to their associative enterprises’ swift adaptation. Innovative mechanisms are in place in their organizations to keep operations going and ensure continued cocoa purchases from members, who can count on a stable income as a result.

In recent years, SOCODEVI has helped consolidate dozens of associative enterprises across six regions of Colombia. Today, thanks to these organizations’ adaptability and innovation, thousands of families are able to sell what they produce at a fair price and thus obtain the resources they need to meet their families’ needs, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All stages of the cocoa value chain have been reviewed to ensure continued operations without compromising the health of producer families. Cocoa producers are pursuing their operations in strict compliance with the sanitary measures introduced by the Colombian Government.

Activities include:

Advisory support to optimize agroforestry and in turn bolster the resilience of farms;
Farm maintenance and cocoa packing;
Distribution of cocoa inputs and seedlings for cocoa production;
Maintenance of services at associative enterprises’ collection points in order to continue to offer cocoa bean purchases;
Adaptation of cocoa commercialization operations together with buyers to ensure the local availability of financial liquidity;
Assistance in evaluating and optimizing the financial and entrepreneurial operations of supported organizations.

This crisis has changed everyone’s life in our community. This said, for our co-op, it is also an opportunity to strengthen ties with our producer families. With the support of SOCODEVI, our collection point is still up and running, in compliance with all the health guidelines.

-JENNY GONZALEZ, Administrator for the WORKAKAO cooperative

Securing fair prices for cocoa

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts are ongoing to better position associative enterprises in national and international markets. As part of the AGROEMPRENDE CACAO project, an initiative led by SOCODEVI, no fewer than 34 producer organizations continue to benefit from support enabling them to meet their business commitments and develop new strategic alliances.

In the Putumayo region, ASOPA has successfully continued operations, bringing more than 40 tons of cocoa to market in recent weeks.
A number of organizations are working together to cut down on the costs of transporting their production to their various customers.
Business alliances have recently been forged between key industry players such as the national chocolate company and associations from the Magdalena Medio and Cesar regions.

Communicating to break out of isolation

To mitigate the negative effects of confinement and social distancing measures, SOCODEVI teams in Colombia have also introduced communication strategies and tools to maintain and strengthen their ties with supported producer families and their organizations.

Distance learning has been adopted to compensate for the shutdown of SOCODEVI Field Schools and a series of dozens of video clips has been produced and distributed to address technical, environmental, entrepreneurial and gender equality issues.
Community radio programs have been hosted by specialists from each of the project components.
A text messaging system has been developed with SOCODEVI’s support to maintain and bolster the connections between organizations and their members (e.g., sharing helpful information on how cocoa collection points are operated).

Business alliances have recently been forged between key industry players such as the national chocolate company and associations from the Magdalena Medio and Cesar regions.

“We are continuing to improve the quality of our production. The training is ongoing and the project is providing us with equipment, including healthy plants for our plots. We haven’t been abandoned!

– PAULA YARCE, Cocoa Producer

This project is led by SOCODEVI with the financial participation of the Canadian government.