Greetings all at Chocolate Life!
I am writing from Esmeraldas, Ecuador where I am the project manager at FONMSOEAM. FONMSOEAM stands for the Federation of Afro-Ecuadorian and Mestizos Organizations from the South-Western of Esmeraldes, Muisne and Atacames districts. FONMSOEAM is an association of cacao farmers who just received Organic Certification (Very Exciting!) and are anxious to get involved in the socially just niche market of gourmet chocolate.
The group has worked very hard to come as far as they have. The Esmeraldas province is the poorest in Ecuador and has a long history of racial oppression. The region lacks basic education and health services, access to drinking water, portable water, and electricity. The majority of the cacao farmers at FONMSOEAM live inside the Mache Chindul ecological reserve which is home to some of the most precious biodiversity in the world. Also, some of the fastest disappearing rain forest. The oil companies have been ruthless and are responsible for destroying the majority of the local rain forest, displacing local indigenous communities, and disrupting the sustainable production of cacao, among other things.
Conversely, the region is known to produce some of the highest quality cacao. The climate is perfect for cacao fino de aroma. Cacao is a native plant here as well as a "green" crop because it thrives within a diverse environment. The sustainable production of cacao serves as an avenue for economic opportunity and environmental justice. FONMSOEAM is committed to the sustainable production of cacao as well as the preservation of the rain forest, and the future economic success of the producers.
FONMSOEAM has begun hosting interns and working with various non-profits and NGOs to move forward in their sustainability goals. They have taken on various other projects such as environmental education and women's groups to encourage community building among their associates.
FONMSOEAM's success is indicative of hard work and organization...and now we've got some tasty cacao to show for it! As project manager I am responsible for overseeing several committees. One of the committees serves to advance in the cacao market by finding new business opportunities, which leads me to this very Blog. If anyone is interested in working with FONMSOEAM or learning more about our cacao, production, buying, drying, fermentation, or anything of the sort I'd be happy to hear from you! Any ideas or suggestions would also be warmly welcomed! We've got the quality cacao and now we're interested in making chocolate! Also, if anyone is interested in visiting, volunteering, or interning let me know.
Thanks for Reading :)