Choco4Peace is an innovative business model that uses cacao as an economic tool to support peacebuilding by generating socioeconomic and environmental impacts in post-conflict regions. The absence of peace correlates closely with the lack of sustainable development and fair profits.
One of the most compelling examples of this phenomenon is the Colombian cacao sector. There are approximately 38,000 cacao farmers in Colombia, and of these farmers 90% are smallholders and 73% live below the poverty line. This is mainly due to a lack of access to markets and fair prices, investment, capacity building, insurance, technology and an inadequate governance and policy framework.
In addition, artificially depressed prices for premium “fino de aroma” cacao put producers under pressure to revert to the production of cocaine in order to survive. Strong demand for cocaine bolsters the illegal armed groups which destabilize Latin American societies by undermining the authority of governments and the rule of law, and eroding transparency and the trust of citizens.
Following the 2016 peace agreement that ended a war lasting over 50 years with the FARC (Colombia’s largest guerrilla group), the Colombian government has identified over 100,000 hectares of coca plantations in post-conflict regions. To date, 77,000 families have voluntarily agreed to remove their coca plants. However, participation of the private sector is crucial to mobilize capital and provide the education and tools necessary for a farmer’s success in sustainably replacing their coca crop without suffering financial ruin.
Starting in Colombia, Choco4Peace is focused on empowering smallholders, particularly women, youth and indigenous people willing to transition from the production of cocaine to the cultivation of specialty “fino de aroma” cacao. This is accomplished by using smart-contract Blockchain technology to create a Decentralized Inclusive Economic Network (DIEN). This network aggregates cacao producers with stakeholders from the cacao industry, giving cacao entrepreneurs access to markets and fair prices, investment, capacity building, insurance, technology. Within this platform, the presence of transparency and traceability mitigates risk, mobilizes investments, and builds trust among members.
By promoting the growth of cacao, Choco4Peace not only diminishes the production of cocaine, but works toward solving the critical cacao supply deficit of 1 million tons per year (by 2020) while striving to meet six of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) from the United Nations.