Ecuador’s most desired cocoa by chocolate producers, is its national cocoa, also known as Theobroma cocoa L. However, due to plagues and diseases, other varieties were introduced, giving origin to vigorous and productive hybrids. These products are lower in quality. Initiatives are thus set up to recover the national variety.
Cocoa is one of Ecuador’s main export products. The cocoa sector employs 5% of rural economically active population, thus constituting a fundamental base of the family economy of the Coast, Andes foothills and the Amazon area. It involves around 150,000 families. Most, approximately 70%, are small-scale producers, 20% being medium and 10% large producers.
Total exports of Ecuador in recent years have risen from 235,000 tonnes in 2014 to 315,000 tonnes in 2018 (ANECACAO 2020), and the trend continues upwards with an average of 8% per year. Currently, Ecuador is between the third and fourth place of world cocoa exporters (after Ivory Coast and Ghana, and in a draw with Indonesia).
Nowadays, many varieties of cocoa are grown in Ecuador, however the variety known as ‘national’ (Theobroma cacao L.), is the one most desired by chocolate producers, because of the quality of its beans and the finesse of its flavour. However, the severe attack of plagues and diseases has caused losses and other varieties were introduced. Over time, these varieties have been crossed with the national cocoa, giving origin to vigorous and productive hybrids, but whose fruits have a lower aromatic quality than the national one. Therefore, there are initiatives aimed at recovering the national variety, which is one of those most in demand on both national and international markets.
Thanks to its geographical conditions and its richness in terms of biologic resources, Ecuador is the quintessential producer of this variety. This type of bean is used in all refined chocolates. According to data of the Fine Aromatic Cocoa Observatory for Latin America, Ecuador stands out for being the prime global exporter of this type of emblematic product, having over 62% of the world production of fine aromatic cocoa.
Rikolto is implementing MOCCA cacao activities in Ecuador, together with Lutheran World Relief (LWR) who leads the cocoa part of MOCCA in the 6 countries. The MOCCA Programme is a five-year initiative (2018- 2023) funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA´s) Food for Progress Program.
MOCCA will help farmers to overcome the barriers that limit their capacity to effectively rehabilitate and renovate their coffee and cacao plants – increasing their productivity, while improving their marketing capacity, incomes, and livelihoods within these key value chains. The MOCCA Program is led Technoserve in consortium with Lutheran World Relief (LWR).
We support 5 cooperatives: UOPROCAE in Esmeraldas, Fortaleza del Valle in Manabí, UNOCACE in Guayas, El Oro y Los Rios, and APEOSAE and APECAP in Zamora Chinchipe.
Together with our partners, we have been working a lot on the creation of the Cocoa Competitiveness Improvement Plan and getting the cocoa sector in Ecuador in line with the new regulations on cadmium of the European Union.
We have built a research-action system together with the organizations and the ESPOL University to