With help of Lutheran World Relief, his farm is now thriving, and his cocoa, after taking a top prize in an international competition in Paris, is becoming known around the world.
Zacapa is benefitting from Lutheran World Relief’s strategy to help revive the cocoa sector in El Salvador by providing assistance along the entire value chain. Although cocoa is native to El Salvador and its beans were even used as currency in the pre-colonial era, its production fell out of favor after the Spanish Conquest to the point where it had become nearly non-existent.
Lutheran World Relief, working in partnership with Catholic Relief Services under the banner of the Cocoa Alliance, aims to reactivate cocoa production by positioning El Salvador as a producer and exporter of high-quality fine aroma chocolate. Working with medium-sized producers like Zacapa will help lift a sector that will benefit small cocoa producers and improve the lives of their families.
The Cocoa Alliance, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, seeks to strengthen the production of cocoa at several points along the value chain, from improving its cultivation in the field, to perfecting fermentation techniques to expanding its marketing to connect Salvadoran cocoa producers to regional and global chocolate markets.
In the field, Lutheran World Relief has pioneered the Mobile Cocoa smartphone app, which provides instant access to a toolbox of manuals containing up-to-date information on best practices for cocoa cultivation, from planting, pruning and grafting to identifying and treating plant diseases. Mobile Cocoa also offers the latest market information, so producers can negotiate for the best price for their cocoa.