Jose cuts cacao pods from the tree
February 23, 2015: Isla de la Amargura, Caceres, Antioquia (Colombia): Jose Blanquiceth harvests cocoa on his farm. Jose is a Colombian farmer living on a small island only reachable by motorboat. In this community of only 300 residents, Jose grows bananas and cacao in a small plot alongside his home, which he shares with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. For the past five years, USAID has helped him grow better cacao and get a fairer price for his crop by connecting him to the chocolate industry. Jose is a beneficiary of a USAID program that aims to give farmers in coca-growing areas alternatives to the illegal drug trade – which is lucrative, but incredibly dangerous. Jose says that the cacao program helps him support his family. He can make around $300-$400 per month harvesting cacao and selling it to a local growers’ association. This group then pools product from several farmers and sells it to a major chocolate company based in Colombia. “With the cacao, now we can buy rice easier,” Jose explains. “Cacao changed my life.” Supporting the cacao industry is one of many USAID activities that gives Colombians living in areas long strained by civil conflict alternatives to illicit activities and helps rebuild trust in government and other institutions.
Thomas Cristofoletti, USAID
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