Cocoa plant built on green bonds curbs deforestation in Colombia
By Laia Mataix Gomez
Tumaco, Colombia, Nov 3 (EFE).- Marino Midero had dedicated his entire life to felling trees in Colombia’s Nariño department until he pledged to stop deforestation under a collective conservation project and started producing cocoa.
Midero turned to cocoa when a processing plant, backed by an international cooperation project, opened in Bajo Mira y Frontera, in the rural region of Tumaco.
Some 53 villages in the community have reallocated over 37,500 hectares to the REDD+ project — United Nations-backed programs to reduce emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.
The project was launched in 2011 to improve agricultural projects and curb deforestation.
As well as protecting the environment, the program pumps money into the community, making it an attractive shift for farmers.
There are already 600 cocoa producers who have relied on the technical assistance provided by the program and are now reaping the economic benefits.
Carbon bonds are an international financing instrument in which developed economies pump funds into sustainable projects in emerging tropical markets — home to the world’s rainforests where large volumes of carbon are stored, thus slowing global warming.
In practice, companies operating in developed economies purchase carbon credits — which are often cheaper than paying a carbon tax — and funds are funneled into community-led initiatives that aim to protect the rainforest and safeguard carbon storage.
In this corner of Tumaco, organizations have the support of Páramos y Bosques (‘Moors and Forests’)— a United States government-backed program — to finance the transition of illicit activities to legal production within 30 years.
Green bonds have paved the way for the creation of a cocoa production plant where producers can sell cocoa at a fair price, as well as cutting transportation costs to the urban area of Tumaco.
In the processing plant, the fermentation of cocoa beans takes between three and seven days. The beans are then dried, a process that can take up to six more days.
The company was created in 2020 but has been involved in the cocoa marketing process through the Governing Board of the Council since 2014 to reach the national and international market directly, cutting middlemen, and motivating farmers to “get out of the forest”.
And although cocoa is a REDD+ star project, pig farming and the harvesting of other crops, such as coconuts, have also been promoted to curb deforestation.
The community council is in charge of taking all decisions: from administering the funds from the sale of the carbon credits to deciding on where to invest resources, in an assembly format.
Profits are not distributed individually but are allocated to initiatives that benefit the entire community.