The value of cocoa

Since 2013, the ETEA Foundation has been developing an intervention to promote sustainable cocoa production in western Honduras to improve living conditions and ensure food security for families in rural areas. This intervention, implemented with the Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA) and financed by the Andalusian Agency for International Development Cooperation (AACID), has complemented a solid agroforestry and cocoa cultivation program that FHIA began in 1985.

With a long history of work in the Honduran coffee sector, the ETEA Foundation launched initiatives to improve the productivity and competitiveness of cocoa producers in western Honduras. In this first phase, a project was proposed to guarantee the right to food of families located in the departments of Santa Bárbara and Copán by supporting the production of cocoa crops in those areas with agro-climatic potential for its development.

Following the success of the results obtained, a second phase of the project began in 2015, currently under implementation, in which the focus was on the value chain approach, insisting on the importance of production and organization of producer groups, while incorporating new elements of the production process -agro-processing, post-harvest, fermentation and drying techniques- that allow increasing the quality of cocoa and thus improve its added value with a view to its commercialization.

With this second project nearing completion, AACID funds are already available to launch a new phase -also of two years’ duration- in which the aim is to expand the cocoa production area, consolidate the processing, value addition and marketing components, and introduce applied research on cocoa cultivation in the region to boost the generation of knowledge.

A second phase focused on the cocoa value chain.

During 2016, among others, measures were implemented to encourage producers interested in establishing cocoa cultivation. Some of them focused on the productive component, such as the implementation of 11 nurseries for the production of cocoa plants, efficiently managed by “Local cocoa producers’ committees”, or the installation of 20 drip irrigation systems, aimed at improving production in the summer season.

Other activities focused on the management and organizational strengthening component, such as holding workshops to exchange experiences with the Jesús A. Sánchez Cocoa Development Center (CEDEC JAS) in La Masica Atlántida, the Fraternidad Ecológica Limitada Coffee Cooperative (CAFEL) and the Renacer del Cacao Mixed Cooperative (COMIRC).

In addition, in order to find marketing channels for the cocoa currently produced by 200 producers participating in the project, business rounds have been held with companies such as Finca Tres Marías (a Honduran company), Chocolats Alba of Switzerland and Maribel Lieberman, a Honduran chocolatier with chocolate stores in New York and Japan, who demand cocoa with appropriate fermentation processes to develop the aromas and flavors of cocoa. To strengthen the process of adding value to the product, 20 cocoa fermentation systems have been delivered to producers who have plantations in production and who had previously received training in post-harvest cocoa.