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The Urgency of Sustainable Chocolate Production: Protecting Land and Communities

Sustainable Chocolate

In our fast-paced world, it is crucial to acknowledge the impact our choices make on the environment and society at large. The production of chocolate, a cherished delight consumed globally, is no exception. Beyond its irresistible flavour and indulging nature, chocolate carries a weighty responsibility, a responsibility to protect our planet, empower communities, and preserve the delicate balance of nature.


Ecuador's Forests are Under Relentless Deforestation

Deforestation in Ecuador

The Alarming Reality:

Every year, our planet loses a staggering 87,000 hectares of land to deforestation in Ecuador alone. In the Province of Esmeraldas, in the cacao-producing community of Canandé where our cacao farmers live, 17,150 hectares of precious forest have been lost between 2014 and 2020.

This devastation is primarily driven by destructive practices such as mining, logging, and intensive agriculture. As these forests vanish, so does the habitat for countless species, vital water resources, and the delicate balance of our ecosystems.

The challenges faced by the cacao-producing community of Canandé, situated in the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest, are immense. Poverty, lack of infrastructure, and limited government support often lead these communities to resort to environmentally damaging activities, including logging and intensive agriculture. Supporting these communities through a sustainable chocolate production is key to saving our forests.

At Rio Nuevo Chocolate, we firmly believe that the guardians of Ecuador's threatened forests are the communities that live there. In regions such as Canandé, we have forged direct trade relationships with cacao farmers, empowering them to protect their environment while cultivating high-quality cacao. Witnessing the positive impact of supporting these communities is truly remarkable.

Redefining Sustainable Chocolate

Sustainable chocolate production is not longer an alternative, it has become a need.

But what does it truly mean? At its core, sustainable chocolate represents a production and consumption process that promotes and protects social equality, safeguards natural resources, preserves biodiversity, and ensures food security. It stands in stark contrast to the exploitative and environmentally damaging practices prevalent in today's chocolate industry.

Sustainable chocolate production

Behind every bar of chocolate lies a network of individuals whose livelihoods are intertwined with its production. True sustainability in chocolate production demands the empowerment of these communities. By engaging directly with cacao farmers, we can uplift their livelihoods, foster fair trade practices, and eradicate poverty while also restoring natural ecosystems.

Restoring Nature Through Sustainable Chocolate

Our forests are the lifeblood of our planet, essential for regulating climate, conserving biodiversity, and providing clean water. Sustainable chocolate production recognises the importance of responsible land management, rejecting destructive practices in favour of regenerative approaches. It means preserving our forests, safeguarding wildlife habitats, and nurturing biodiversity. By producing sustainable chocolate, we take a stand for the conservation, and in Ecuador's case, the reforestation of its forests.

Empowering Cacao Farmers, Protecting and Restoring Forests

What does sustainability means for Rio Nuevo Chocolate?

Through our initiatives focused on education, training, and forging lasting relationships with farmers, we ensure transparency, traceability, and responsible farming practices. By engaging in direct trade, paying farmers 65% above Fairtrade prices and building enduring partnerships, we strive to enact positive change in the lives of cacao farmers and the ecosystems they inhabit.

Our sustainable chocolate practices align with various United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our business model contribute to:

Goal 1: No Poverty

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Goal 13: Climate Action

Goal 15: Life on Land

By addressing poverty, living wages and promoting sustainable consumption, combatting climate change, and conserving biodiversity, Rio Nuevo Chocolate actively participates in the global endeavour to create a more sustainable future.

The People Behind Our Sustainable Chocolate

Sustainable cacao farming

Marcia Aguinda

Marcia is a member of the indigenous cacao farmer’s association, Tsatsayaku. A community that cares deeply about the social, environmental and cultural implications of the choices that they have to make as farmers.

Practicing an ancient ‘forest garden’ method of cultivation and growing moderate quantities of cacao alongside other crops like cassava, plantains, tomatoes and medicinal herbs, these farmers are incredibly conscious of the health of the fragile ecosystems that surround their small forest plantations.

Drawing upon countless generations of indigenous knowledge and expertise, Marcia and her colleagues’ decision to limit the quantity of their harvests is an incredible choice that prioritises community, sustainability and the survival of an ancient way of life over profit, displacement and environmental degradation.


Forest Restoration

Mario Guananga

Mario is one of our cacao farmers from the Canandél region in the Cloud Forest of Ecuador.

He has been growing cacao for over 30 years and owns one of the most well managed sustainable cacao farms in the area, without the use of harmful pesticides or fertilisers, he’s saving important habitats for key endangered species and conserving the forest.

Mario is also a part time national park ranger, who is deeply committed to the health of the forest that surrounds his community. Carefully monitoring the boundary of the nearby Cotacachi Cayapas National Park, Mario is on the font lines of his community’s efforts to protect the Cloud Forest against both illegal and large-scale corporate logging interests.

His story is a great example of how empowering cacao farmers in the Cloud Forest, through direct trade relationships, is a powerful tool against deforestation and the negative social impact it brings with it.


Responsible Consumption and Production

Mass production and intensive agriculture have led to the proliferation of low-quality, cheaply produced chocolates that compromise our health, the livelihoods of farmers and the environment. Sustainable chocolate redefines the relationship between producers and consumers. It embraces responsible farming practices, rejects harmful chemicals, and promotes transparency and traceability.

The journey toward sustainable chocolate production transcends individual actions. It is a collective responsibility that demands collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to change. Governments, businesses, and consumers all play pivotal roles in shaping the future of chocolate. By supporting sustainable practices, demanding transparency, and making informed choices, we can transform the chocolate industry into a force for positive impact.

Sustainable chocolate production is not an abstract notion; it is a tangible path towards a better world. It empowers communities, preserves our natural heritage, and ensures a future where chocolate can be savoured guilt-free.

Let's make conscious choices, and embark on a collective journey towards a future where sustainability shapes the very essence of the chocolate industry. Together, we can forge a path that nourishes both the planet and our taste buds, ensuring a world where every delectable bite of chocolate carries the promise of positive change.

Through collective efforts and conscious choices, we can create a future where sustainability and the love for chocolate go hand in hand.


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