Agroemprende Cacao – Creating Markets for Local Farmers

After more than 50 years of conflict between the Colombian government and guerrilla forces ended in 2016, creating new, legal economic opportunities was essential to maintaining the peace effort. The cacao industry was identified as a significant opportunity because it offers a legal alternative to the many farmers who grow illicit coca. Colombia produces a particularly fine grade of cacao (the seeds from which chocolate is made), which is in short supply in world markets.

Agroemprende does this through the development of three key areas of the market chain. The first area is through the strengthening of local farmer cooperative associations, known in Colombia as “local associative enterprises”, in five Putumayo municipalities. These ground-based producer associations will come together to pool their production and will aggregate purchases, storage, and distribution taking advantage of volume discounts and utilizing other economies of scale.

Second, farmer associations are connected to new collection and purchasing points that are managed by producer associations. These collection centres are located strategically among member farms to receive dried cacao beans from association members and neighbouring cacao producers. The centres will not only collect the dried cacao beans, they will also buy the dried beans directly from the farmers and then sell the gathered volumes to large scale buyers and local markets – replacing the role of intermediaries, who usually profit significantly more than the farmers themselves.

Finally, the Agroemprende program will create one large regional cooperative association that gathers and represents local farmer associations. The regional cooperative association increases access to markets and competitiveness for local farmers. Cacao crops are negotiated at a larger economy of scale and will have competitive access to national markets.

“GTE has been a strategic ally to the government of Putumayo in its efforts to support our producers. Successful projects like AgroEmprende are important models that help us attract additional public-private initiatives. The Company’s efforts to develop local infrastructure like roads is connected with its entrepreneurial and agricultural projects, which taken together are very important in territories where development is lagging.”
Project Highlights
  • 400 families will be directly supported through Agroemprende.
  • In 2022, 310 family-owned cacao farms participated, and over 104,700kg of cacao was produced and commercialized.
  • Beneficiaries are from Puerto Asís, Puerto Caicedo, Mocoa, Villagarzón and Puerto Guzmán.
  • Beneficiaries will also see improved economic opportunities through the establishment of agroenvironmental practices, climate-smart agriculture, agroforestry systems, and the implementation of new innovative technologies.
  • The Agroemprende initiative has a specific focus on the empowerment and resilience of women in the cacao business by developing and strengthening their technical capabilities. It also facilitates female access to land tenure so that they can become direct beneficiaries of existing and upcoming programs.
  • In 2022, Putumayo cacao was sold for the first time ever at the Chocoshow, an international exhibition in the city of Bogotá, changing the narrative that Putumayo cacao could not compete with quality standards from other regions.
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