Aid helps Bolivians to capitalise on cocoa crop

10 May 2013

CHRISTIAN AID/RACHEL STEVENS

Turning resources into food: a woman with a cocoa sapling, in Bolivia, where people have struggled to feed them­selves

Turning resources into food: a woman with a cocoa sapling, in Bolivia, where people have struggled to feed them­selves

BOLIVIANS will soon be able to sample home-grown chocolate bars, produced by a factory that operates in the Amazonian rainforest.

The factory, which has just opened, is in San Ignacio de Moxos, in Beni, the second poorest region in the country, in the Amazon rainforest in eastern Bolivia. It is run by indigenous people seeking to earn a living from the wild cocoa plants that grow in the forest. It is supported by the Centre for Research and Training of Peasant Farmers, a partner of Christian Aid.

"Three years ago, people who were living in the Amazon told us they had these amazing cocoa crops and knew they could do something with it," the programme manager at Christian Aid in Bolivia, Cecelia Cordova, said last Wednesday. "They asked us to build this factory, and we found the money last year. They now have over 600 kilos of cocoa to start turning into chocolate bars to sell in the national market this year."

Discussions with the government of Bolivia are under way to explore the possibility of supplying the chocolate for the breakfast given to students in every state.

Ms Cordova said that the situation of indigenous people in Bolivia had improved after decades in which they were forced to work for people brought in by the government to develop the land. Christian Aid had helped them to secure land titles confirming that they owned the territories in which they lived: "We know that for them to be able to protect this territory, they need to show that they are making use of it."

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