For generations, we, the small farmers of Esmeraldas, have been in love with cacao. Our grandparents and parents grew it, we grow it, and we hope that our children keep on growing it. In the past years, we have been able to harvest cacao not only for our own consumption, but also for local and international commercialization. This is due to our hard work, producing world-class organic cacao, increasing yield and quality. Gourmet chocolatiers all around the world love our beans so much, which is why we wondered… why can’t we become chocolate makers? It has been our dream to make our own chocolate bars, adding value to our raw material, cutting out the middle-man, in order to increase our earnings and pursue a better life. Thanks to the help of local and international friend organizations, we now have launched Herencia Esmeraldas, a Farmer-Owned social enterprise.
– The farmers
The social enterprise we have formed is composed of over 800 small farmers all over Esmeraldas, covering over 1000 hectares of land of cacao. It is the joint effort of not one, not two, but nine cooperatives: APROCANE, COCPE, UOPROCAE with its five base co-ops which are APROCA, ECOCACAO, APROCAM, ASOPROARONES, APROCAR and Velazco Ibarra.
We have all come together in the spirit of preserving our ancestral traditions of cacao growing and keeping local cacao bean variety: Fino de Aroma.
Esmeraldas, also known as the green province, is one of the most vibrant and diverse regions in Ecuador. The social and environmental diversity is what makes this place so special, and what makes each cacao bean so unique and flavorful.
It is home to the biggest Afro-Ecuadorian community in Ecuador; all of it surrounded by beautiful beaches and exuberant landscapes. The province’s geography, tropical weather, along with the variety of altitudes, give its land fertile properties, which allow to grow cacao with unique profiles.
The Cacao Justo Project
In order to craft Herencia Esmeraldas, we were kindly supported by the “Cacao Justo” (Fair Cacao) project lead by our friends from the ACRA Foundation, alongside with CEFODI and the provincial government of Esmeraldas (GADPE) in the years of 2015 to 2019. The goal of the project was to strengthen the production chain of organic, Fair Trade, cacao Fino de Aroma; focusing on the farmers of Esmeraldas, with an environmentally sustainable approach, and gender equality. The project was made possible thanks to the kind funding of the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development and funding by other implementation partners organizations.