Fluctuating prices and storms make life hard for Honduran cocoa producers. Although cocoa prices soared in 2008, small farmers benefitted very little, as they had little bargaining power with the buyers and the multiple middlemen, each taking a cut However, all that has changed for organic farming families in Honduras. Helvetas has linked them directly with the Coop-owned chocolate manufacturer, Halba. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation trains the small farmers in organic farming and helps them improve their crop so that they can supply high-quality organic and Fairtrade cocoa to Halba.
The organic farmers’ fields are adjacent to the Patuca National Park, at the heart of Central America’s largest continuous expanse of rainforest. In recent years, many famers have cut down the trees to rent out their lands as pasture and earn a meagre income. This development is fatal for the rainforest, since the felling robs it of its buffer zone and animals and plants come under pressure. This can only be solved through reforestation and providing local farming families with new income-earning opportunities. Both can be achieved by growing organic cocoa and planting hardwood trees as shade for the cocoa. The farmers also learn ways of protecting soil fertility and preventing erosion. Organic chocolates thus not only help the farmers, but also the environment and the climate.