El Rosario, our first Luker productive farm in Colombia, is an example of the impact chocolate can have on communities, and how chocolate crafted at origin can create value.
- What was the process to acquire the unique flavour of this single estate chocolate?
- Creating Shared value through fully traceable chocolate
- The Sustainability impact of seed-to-bar chocolate.
What does the change mean and how can we measure it? When can we say that we are changing something? If we limit ourselves to the definition of the Oxford dictionary, change is “the act or result of something becoming different”. But the meaning loses in the nuances of the word.
Since its foundation, Luker has tried to change the lives of the people we work with. The etymology of the change we want to achieve has changed. It has changed, along with us, thanks to the processes with different communities and people. One of the best examples of this idea is El Rosario, a farm where single estate chocolate changed the reality of a lot of people.
El Rosario farm is in Necoclí, a town in Antioquia, Colombia. It’s located on the eastern shore of the Gulf of Urabá. The region had to deal with violence, conflict, and remnants of the war on drugs.
Before cacao, El Rosario was a cattle ranch that had almost 500 acres. It managed 500 cows, but only needed four or six employees to function. This started to seem different in 2011 when Luker invested in El Rosario to start a cocoa farm with the idea of helping improve the conditions of the area. The land use needed a change, and Cacao Fino de Aroma seemed like a good option. But it wasn’t that easy. We found a fragmented community with little motivation to stay connected to the region.
If we wanted a real change, we’d have to work on something more than only land.
Creating Shared value through fully traceable chocolate
Our plantations in El Rosario in Necoclí, Colombia , the farm where this chocolate is sourced
From the beginning, it was evident that recovering the trust and motivation of the community would not be an easy task. Thus, began a dynamic process to recover not only confidence but also the region’s economy. The change began with actions that would seem obvious, but in the region they were new. We started with formal employment for everyone working on the farm, social security, and paid vacations.
Going from extensive cattle to cocoa planting meant a huge change. There were no longer 4 or 6 ranch hands, more and more hands were needed. The initial 400 hectares of cocoa (today we are talking of 550) ended up generating more than 250 jobs. The change brought better income and higher quality of life. But it wasn’t enough.
That is how El Rosario became our first “anchor” for The Chocolate Dream as the center of projects seeking to foster sustainable development in the surrounding communities. For example, the project ‘Water for Caribia’, which took place from 2018 to 2020, helped 576 persons by giving water to the Caribia, a community that did not have an aqueduct.
This partnership was made between the Mayor’s Office of Necoclí, the Government of Antioquia, Fundación Luker, and some of our clients such as Voss, Fino de Aroma Co., and Delgiro, with which we seek to provide technical and community support to the population in the process of restoring the aqueduct in the village of Caribia. And, also, monitoring the implementation of the work through the Water Committee comprising the inhabitants.
Another initiative was ‘The power of education’, which we co-created with one of our clients in Japan, Maison Cacao. This program gave the educational infrastructure to more than 240 students. Also, 475 persons in the community of Garitón benefited from the construction of the new block with 3 new classrooms and a water tank with water disposal.
Also, through The Chocolate Dream, we achieve great changes, like The Cocoa Festival, an event that is the perfect example of how the community embraced cacao. The festival takes place in Caribia, a place where there were no patron saint festivities.
That is why, together with the community, a festival was created around cacao that brought together the cultural traditions of a very varied group of people, along with our vision of cacao. The impact and adoption of the festival were so great that today it is “compared to the arrival of electricity 40 years ago”.
The Sustainability impact of a seed-to-bar chocolate
The change did not only take place in peo ple’s quality of life. El Rosario is also an example of how through cocoa we can promote reforestation and protect biodiversity. Today, El Rosario is home to 480,000 cocoa trees, from 8 species, and 329 species of animals.
We can see everything in the smiles of children in Necoclí. In the schools built around the farms, the facilities include access to water, education, and healthcare. The Dreamers help to get entrepreneurial projects, the promotion of transport for children to school, fresh water to a community in the region, and so many more stories.
We believe in change. But, more importantly, we are still learning that the limits of change are none. Chocolate can change lives. We can change lives.
Therefore, It’s important to protect the natural ecosystems in agriculture. Agroforestry systems are a brilliant way to boost forests, whilst maintaining a promising yield and helping the overall farm be more sustainable.
It’s a win-win for carbon reduction as it prevents deforestation and provides an extra income to small cocoa farmers. This is because farmers who are measuring the carbon captured by the agroforestry systems can have a certified bonus to sell to the market, and benefit from the extra crops mixed in with cocoa.
If we don’t protect our planet, we can’t protect our crops. The importance of changing how we farm will be the difference between reaching carbon zero targets and not. We still have a long way to go to make this common practice, but we can always incentive farmers, partners, and clients to become more sustainable and climate positive.
Single estate chocolate, a true reflection of pureness and sustainability in a 100% traceable chocolate
The result of all these efforts? In terms of product, a plantation or single estate like El Rosario, where we can control all aspects of the production process, allows us to develop unique chocolate with sensorial characteristics that best reflect the attributes of the land and the people behind El Rosario.
It also allows us to offer 100% traceable chocolate that has been planted, harvested, and processed with the utmost respect to the planet and the families who make it possible.