Investment is expected to benefit communities, prevent environmental destruction and increase exports.
The Ecuadoran Route of Cacao and Chocolate government program was praised this Wednesday by the head of a chocolate-producing company, who said that people who were once forgotten, today they’re being benefitted, and in turn so is the industry in general.
“Normally cacao is produced in the Amazon, and on the Ecuadoran coast, by people who were forgoten,” Juan Diego Guzman, a manager of the Cochocolateca company in Quito told teleSUR. “Now that is not going to be the case. Now they are so important that the industry needs them to be pillars for export in reality.”
Guzman spoke in reference to the fact that the government is investing US$6 million in the cacao sector to change the production matrix in the Amazon region, where President Rafael Correa was this weekend. There, in the Amazonian province of Napo in Ecuador, the head of state said the country is working to move away from agricultural practices harmful to the environment and benefit local economies.
“The investments that the government is making now we have been feeling in the industry since the beginning. For the support that has existed in the public sector, such as Pro Ecuador for example, that is guiding each one of the companies so that we can export,” Guzman said.
During his televised address Saturday, Correa said, “According to latest research, cacao is native of our Amazon, this is native of the Amazon. Livestock, animals were brought by the Spanish. The principal problem in our Amazon is the expansion of agriculture, cattle.”
Through the government’s investment in cacao in three targeted zones in the Amazon, an estimated 15,000 workers would experience direct benefits. The investment is also expected to stimulate community and ecotourism, and as a consequence discourage extractive industries from operating in the region.
On increased investment, delegate of the Ministry of Production Cristian Freire, said, “We want to strengthen businesses so that each one of them has new markets, so that they have an excellent product of quality based in prime materials strengthen the whole cacao and chocolate chain, to strengthen all of its workers.”
A major export of Ecuador, cacao exports currently represent an annual revenue of US$500 million, as the country accounts for 70 percent of the cacao consumed globally.
Producers expect that the new free trade agreement signed with Europe this past July will increase exports, a number which currently stands at 200,000 tons of cacao annually, a number which is projected to reach 400,000 tons by 2020.
Fuente: Telesur Tv Net