More than 30,000 people attended the annual chocolate festival, Salon del Cocoa y Chocolate in Peru where producers, including Kemito Ene – the Asháninka indigenous cocoa association from the Ene River – showcased their products to the market and appealed to prospective buyers.
At the festival, held between 4 – 6 July, the President, Claudio Vasquez and Treasurer, Mauro Mendoza of Kemito Ene introduced the crowd to their highly aromatic cocoa, which had been produced by more than 130 Asháninka families.
Kemito Ene was established by Asháninka producers of cocoa in the Ene Valley, Peru so that communities in this area could gain access to a secure market and successfully market Cocoa under the organic and Fairtrade certification in Peru and Europe.
The Rainforest Foundation UK, (RFUK), has been working with Kemito Ene since its inception in 2009, in collaboration with their indigenous partner Central Ashánika del Rio Ene, (CARE). The RFUK supports these Asháninka communities by providing them with training in cocoa growing, cultivation techniques as well as marketing and financial management. The primary goals of this are to enable communities to become self-sufficient, to sustain a livelihood whilst getting a fair price for their crop.
The Asháninka are one of the most isolated communities in the Peruvian basin and rely upon cocoa production as a source of income. Communities have learnt to produce cocoa in a sustainable manner which does not lead to further detriment of the rainforest whilst simultaneously enhancing productivity and quality of cocoa. At the beginning of the project in 2009, the overall production of cocoa was 1.4 tonnes and has since increased to 18 tonnes in 2013, whilst the quality of chocolate increased from 54% in 2009 to 72% in 2012. It has been estimated by the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture that Cocoa plantations provide a source of income for approximately 45,000 families.
Andean Amazon Co-ordinator for the RFUK, Aldo Soto, said he was proud to witness Kemito Ene’s progress.
“We, as the association’s main partner, are really proud of the high standards of cocoa Kemito Ene are achieving. This is thanks to a committed team that is working directly with the producers and they have managed to get the cocoa beans to a high enough quality to appeal to the European market,” he said.
Click here to see a short film about the Kemito Ene.
PHOTO CREDIT: MIKE GOLDWATER