Cocoa from small farmers that protect the Amazon is awarded once more

For the third consecutive year, fine chocolates made with premium cocoa from producers in the Brazilian Amazon were recognized in national and international competitions.

Solidaridad has promoted low-carbon family farming in Tuerê – one of the largest settlements in the world, with 170,000 hectares and 3,100 families – since 2016. This initiative focuses on improving productivity and income, as well as the carbon balance, and allows the producers to become more resilient to climate change. 

By supporting the production of high-quality cocoa beans, this initiative has also provided family farmers with access to the international fine chocolate market. The premium bean-to-bar market pays up to four times more for cocoa beans and offers farmers the chance to take a fresh look at their own business. “They usually sell to the middleman, who in turn sells to another middleman and, in the end, they do not get a return as good as they could”, explains the Coordinator of the Cocoa and Livestock Program in Brazil, Paulo Lima. 

In 2018, ten producers started supplying cocoa beans to Casa Lasevicius, a maker of artisanal chocolate in São Paulo. Now, for three years in a row, these chocolate bars have been awarded at international and national festivals. The promising Tuerê Terroir fine cocoa is gaining ground and is establishing itself as a reference in quality and flavor.

In spite of the challenges that COVID-19 caused in rural areas during 2020, a bar made from Casa Lasevicious won the bronze prize from the Chocolate Alliance in Seattle, USA. This bar was made from Valdomiro Broechl’s cocoa, with the addition of cupuaçu pulp, a fruit native to the Amazon. The Chocolate Alliance contest functions as a thermometer for other artisan chocolate triads and boasts the largest bean-to-bar market fair in the world.

For Valdomiro, this is the result of a joint effort with his three children. As a participant of the Tuerê project “Inclusive and Sustainable Territories”, he also emphasizes the importance of technical assistance in improving its quality: “I want to thank you all from my heart, especially our teacher Daniel (field officer from Solidaridad), who provided us with training and guidance. Whenever we have any questions, we go to him to find information and try to improve.”

A second chocolate bar, made by the chocolatier Arcelia Gallardo from Mission Chocolate, won gold in the “intense chocolate” category and the award of the public at the national Bean-to-bar Brazil contest. This contest, which has been organized since 2017, promotes the bean-to-bar movement and the improvement of this production method in Brazil. In 2020, 72 chocolate bars were presented, in the categories of milk chocolate and intense chocolate.

Now, the cocoa beans produced by Valdemiro, João Evangelista and João Rios were selected by the Cocoa Excellence Program among the eight best in Brazil and will be able to rank as the 50 best in the world at the International Cocoa Award promoted during the Paris Chocolate Salon, to be held in October. The Program is a collective action between the Executive Committee of the Cocoa Crop Plan (CEPLAC) and the Cocoa Innovation Center (CIC) and has been taking place since 2009 with the aim of honoring high-quality cocoa production.

For producer João Rios, having his almond selected as one of the best in Brazil represents a victory for Tuerê. Photo: Personal collection.

These deserved recognitions highlight the work of cocoa producers. “I can only thank God and the Solidaridad family, who have always given us technical support with visits, training, cocoa pruning, and beans’ preparation. I want to thank the field officers from Solidaridad, Cidson, Marcos, Daniel, and Pedro, who always support us to grow quality crops”, comments João Rios.

It is very gratifying to know that we have managed to reach a quality standard and that we are representing our region.

João Rios, Cocoa producer

Paulo Lima also highlights the empowerment of producers to access new markets and obtain recognition with award-winning chocolates: “Empowerment significantly increases the level of commitment of these families and accelerates the adoption of good practices in their production systems, which reinforces the success of the strategy,” he adds.