In 1998, a chocolate factory was built in Tarapoto, Peru to provide a local buyer that could help stabilize the market for cacao. This factory also served as a training center for farmers to learn new ways to improve the quality of their produce.
Farmers learned techniques that improved the quality and quantity of their beans while preserving the biodiversity of the Peruvian Amazon. Along with the ecological benefits, better beans also earn a better price for farmers when they sell their harvest. The factory’s efforts have helped to galvanize the farming community’s resolve to grow cacao instead of coca.
Normally, farmers export their raw materials for chocolate to Europe, where they are mass produced into bars. While this benefits them, just exporting the raw ingredients means that the developing community misses out on value adding jobs.
Communities that choose cacao over coca are still in need of economic opportunity and having a local buyer that pays well for their cacao provides them with the opportunity that they need. European chocolate experts trained locals in the techniques required to make speciality chocolate, showing them how to preserve the full flavor profile and aromas of the beans – resulting in a product that was meant to be savoured rather than consumed.
Fair trade ensures that farmers are paid a fair price for their produce. However, investments like the one made here ensure that entire communities benefit and prosper.