by Annalise Udall Romoser
May 16, 2012
And LWR is helping make that possible with our partners in Nicaragua.
Last week the country´s first ever international chocolate-tasting competition took place in Managua, Nicaragua. There, seven cooperatives representing hundreds of cocoa producers competed to win the best chocolate award. Cocoa beans are used to make chocolate, and LWR´s heart is in those beans!
In Central America LWR works with farmers to increase their cocoa yields, secure better prices for their crop, and in Nicaragua, improve cocoa quality to ultimately make better chocolate. The two cocoa cooperatives that LWR partners with in Nicaragua participated in last week´s competition, and one of them: COODEPROSA1, won!
The prize not only brings prestige, it also means that the cocoa farmers LWR works with are achieving the quality that will bring them higher prices. For years Nicaragua produced a lot of cocoa for the chocolate market, and it was pretty good cocoa. But in recent decades the industry in Nicaragua faltered and many crops, as well as attention to quality, were abandoned. Economically, farmers suffered from this decline.
In response, LWR helped to form a unique private-public partnership to improve cocoa quality and help farmers sell at a better price. The 5-year project, referred to as ACORDAR2, is partially financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development, with support from Catholic Relief Services and Lutheran World Relief. The results so far are impressive. Aside from helping COODEPROSA win recognition at Nicaragua’s tasting competition, farmers have seen their cocoa sales reach more than half a million dollars since the project began, and more jobs have been created in the cocoa sector. The project has also helped increase, by nearly 4,000 acres, the amount of cocoa and coffee land managed under sustainable practices.
LWR was thrilled to see local governments, private businesses, and so many farmers get involved in the ACORDAR project. And here’s one of the most exciting parts: as part of this unique alliance, The Hershey Company has been providing expert technical assistance to the cocoa cooperatives, facilitated by LWR. During their visits to COODEPROSA over the last two years, Hershey’s cocoa experts have provided recommendations for improving the fermentation and drying of cocoa, which in turn has helped to improve the cocoa’s taste and quality – enough to make it a first-place winner!
Your contributions to LWR helped make this project and this victory possible. And that is pretty sweet.
1. COODEPROSA (Cooperativa de Desarrollo Productiva del San Juan) is a 36-member agriculture cooperative located in El Castillo, Nicaragua on the San Juan River.
2. Alliance to Create Opportunities for Rural Development through Agro-Enterprise Relationships