Assuring the purchase of cacao from our Vinces Collection Center during the COVID19 health emergency
It’s February 18, 2020 and we are doing a field inspection in La Reforma sector with Carlos Zambrano, República del Cacao’s Agriculture Technician. “It’s going to be a promising year, lots of flowers blooming”. “Last’s year pruning proves to have been definitively effective!” he mentions.
Right after 2019 winter harvest (March-June) and before summer harvest starts (September-December), our field team carried out preventive pruning activities that involved trimming old branches and eliminating sick leaves, twigs and pods. With 20+ hectares and 12 thousand+ cacao plants intervened, these pruning and knowledge exchange between technicians and cacao farmers are executed annually with the intention of improving next year’s harvests.
However, 15 days later after this visit, Ecuador enters confinement due to the current COVID19 sanitary emergency and doors shut to any technical follow-up. Rural areas enter a profound dichotomy: in a way they are less affected due to their inherent “isolation” and their resilience in producing primary agricultural products (at least in comparison to cities), but on the other hand they depend on evacuating these same products for generating income and maintaining their already fragile farming economies.
Considering that the cacao high harvest season already begun, República del Cacao rapidly proposed a contingency plan for continuing buying cacao under strict sanitary and security protocols. Through our technical team, a survey for analyzing the region and our allies’ situation is performed. The decisions are the following, the collection center is reopened two days a week for punctually reactivating cacao purchases and most importantly: upon speculation, market price fluctuation and the usual middleman tricks, fixed and sovereign prices are established for guaranteeing the economic development of our allies. These actions have allowed us to act accordingly to the responsibility we have with our 20 fine cacao producers and allied farmers, guaranteeing our cacao purchase from them. We currently have 7 tons of cacao stored in our warehouses in Quito. We calculate that at the end of this cacao high harvest season, we’ll buy approximately 10 more tons.
The abovementioned is an example of our strong business pledge for facing the present adversity while, at the same time, it exemplifies our long-term commitment acquired along our whole supply chain processes, developing solid socioenvironmental compromises at the rural level, continuing our manufacturing activities at the factory level and assuring the provision of quality chocolate to our extended worldwide community.
República del Cacao’s purpose is to manage projects that will guarantee a triple impact (social, environmental and economic) on its value chain. On this way, we not only guarantee a high-quality traceable chocolate, but also sustainable development.
José Merlo, Socioenvironmental Coordinator at República del Cacao
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