According to EFE, cocoa beans have become seeds of hope for women in Jutiapa, on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, thanks to a joint initiative of Japan and the World Bank.
“We are happy with these plantations,” Mirna Meléndez said of her 0.5-hectare (1.23-acre) plot during a visit by Giorgio Valentini, a World Bank official inspecting the implementation of a program financed funded by Japan’s Fund for Social Development.
Meléndez, a widowed mother of four, told EFE she has received tools and is now tilling another half-hectare “to plant more cocoa."
“This is hope. We expect to keep moving ahead because we are more proud of what we have,” Meléndez said, her 20-year-old daughter, Darling, at her side.
A plantain plantation provides the shade the cocoa tree requires to thrive, and Meléndez earns about $600 a year with the sale of the fruit at local markets.
COMMENT: “In the past, I didn’t give much thought to cocoa since we were told the (market) prices were too low, but now, considering the price and the profit, it’s easier to love what we do here,” Meléndez said, gesturing to her plot.
The project aims to increase the cultivation of cocoa among small farmers and to lower production costs by developing systems that combine agriculture and forestation across a minimum of 1,000 farms.
The project includes plantation management and rehabilitation, organic and fair-trade certifications, the search for stable local and international markets that offer profitable prices and the development of technical and business capabilities.
The project aids 1,181 farmers at a cost of $1.5 million, with $947,350 dollars coming from Japan and the balance from the beneficiaries.