Over the past decade, the Amazon Cacao Development Alliance, comprised of government agencies and the private sector, have helped organize the cacao farmers near Yasuni National Park into grower associations, assisting in finding new domestic and international markets for their crop. Out of this effort was born Yachana Jungle Chocolate, a company that exports organically grown cacao. Increasingly, European and US-based chocolate companies are buying directly from the small Ecuador Amazon farmers at fair trade prices and minimally processing their bars to retain their nutritional value and taste. Fair-trade practices for cacao farmers are monitored internationally, and chocolate bars made from cacao sources that adhere to these ethics regulations say so, on the label. Today, some three thousand of Ecuador’s cacao farms are certified as organic growers.
In the chocolate industry, regions that grow the cacao beans are not the same as those that make and sell the chocolate bars. With financing and business expertise from abroad, a large cooperative of indigenous Kichwa farmers in the Ecuador Amazon Napo Province near Tena have merged modern ways and indigenous traditions into a most delicious amalgam, by establishing Kallari Chocolates. Instead of selling the raw, dried cacao beans for export, indigenous farmers now also make the chocolate bars from the flavorful beans of the Arriba tree and other local varieties. The cooperative oversees the process from beginning to end, enabling farmers to control the quality of their final product, bring it to market fresher than many of its competitors and earn higher profits. The company makes its chocolate bars in a factory in Quito.