Colombie: Des coopératives qui tiennent tête aux guérilleros

Colombia: Cooperatives standing up to the guerrillas

It was in the Tumaco region of Colombia that we visited a village unlike any other. They founded a cooperative to stand up to the armed groups. For what? These groups try to force the peasants to turn their crops into coca plantations. Tumaco is a city very far from the big dynamic centers of Colombia and dotted with a very dense jungle, which has unfortunately become the ideal refuge for armed groups.
Farmers from several villages in the region have joined forces to save their land and especially several ancestral cocoa plantations. The objective is to protect and preserve their sometimes hundred-year-old cocoa trees, while ensuring a better future for future generations. This is the bet they have chosen to make by forming a farmers' cooperative. Today, they are proud to welcome us to their processing center. Foreign visitors, even locals, are rather rare in this region, which is regularly described as risky. From the very first moment, we were very impressed by their welcome. They are very well organized (the cooperative is managed by the farmers themselves) and are especially friendly.
They worked hard with researchers from the University of Nariño to improve the quality of their cocoa. The objective of this work is to obtain a premium linked to the quality of the grains. An organic and ancestral type cocoa (criollo) can allow them to sell their cocoa on the international market up to twice as much as on the local market. They have therefore invested more than four years in improving fermentation and drying techniques and modernizing the facilities to process the cocoa.
Barely a few years after the beginnings of the cooperative, they succeeded in signing an agreement with European chocolatiers and intend to expand their contact list. In addition, they have been inducted into the cocoa hall of fame by receiving an award for their cocoa at the World Cocoa of Excellence 2015 competition. They have the wind in their sails to say the least and they are becoming a model to follow across the country. It is thanks to an infinite dose of perseverance, audacity and hope that they have come this far.
Glory to the cacaoteros of Tumaco and their delicious cocoa!

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