Project’s Official Name: Development of the Cocoa Supply Chain to Improve Livelihoods and Preserve the Biological Corridors in the Ecoregion of Lachuá
The ecoregion of Lachuá, located in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala is one of the few places in this area still with high biological diversity. Fifty-four communities live in this ecoregion and 20,000 of its inhabitants live under poverty or extreme poverty conditions, and primarily depend on crops for their subsistence. At the rate that human populations expands, crop systems further threaten the natural forest and the opportunities to provide income to alleviate the levels of poverty are less.
In 2006, as an alternative to diversify income, the IUCN jointly with Guatemala’s Ministry of Agriculture, promoted the support of 170 cocoa producers for the initial development of 230 hectares of cocoa plantations seeking to generate employment, improve livelihood and at the same time foster the conservation of the natural wonders of the area. However, the cropping and processing techniques, as well as the market placement of the product has hindered the maximum advantage to this productive alternative.
With the financial support of the Argidius Foundation, the project organized the community of cocoa producers to improve their productive performance and their product’s entry into the market in such a way that profitability was raised and, therefore, become an economic alternative for the region which has helped relieve the pressure on well conserved natural areas.
· Promote the participation of cocoa producing organizations from Lachuá in the sector’s national agendas
· Facilitate the organization of cocoa producers to establish supply for the Lachuá Ecoregion and increase the value added through the processing of the harvested seed
· Achieve full legitimate and representative participation of the community and indigenous platforms in the implementation of forest incentives.
· Increase income and employment for the producers by strengthening cocoa production, processing and commercialization.
· Generate partnerships for commercialization and to provide access to credit for cocoa production and to support the creation of forest management plans
· Recover deforested areas by implementing cocoa-timber agroforestry systems and strengthening the biological corridors that exist in this zone.