A Sweet Solution to Poverty in Peru
Peru’s location in the dense tropics of the Amazon is contentious. While the environment offers the water and sunshine needed to efficiently grow crops, frequent natural disasters destroy the very lands Peruvian farmers cultivate. The destruction of the cacao bean is a primary concern among rural agriculturists. Voted as the provider of the best dark chocolate in the world in 2017, it is imperative that cacao beans thrive as they provide a solution to poverty in Peru.
Poverty in Peru
The Peruvian government recorded a poverty rate of 21.7 percent in 2017, 1 percent higher than the previous year. This is the first time in sixteen years the poverty rate has risen in Peru, leaving 6.9 million individuals in conditions of economic instability and future uncertainty. Those living in rural areas are most affected because the urban setting acts as an energetic palette for new job opportunities and activism.
Cacao Farming in Peru
The cacao bean offers a solution to poverty in Peru, particularly for the impoverished individuals who have access to vast growing valleys. The South American country is ranked as one of the world’s most biodiverse. This makes for rich soil content that provides a promising potential for high-quality cacao growth. Furthermore, Peru’s climate is one of few that supports the growth of a variety of cacao species. Some common varieties include the Trinitary, Amazon foreign and Creole cacao beans.
Peruvian farmers have taken advantage of these environmental accolades, as it has become one of the world’s prominent cacao producers. Cacao exported from Peruvian growing sites rose a substantial 424 percent from 2001 to 2007. Within these same years, exporting profits rose from $0.2 million to $11 million. This number does not include the Peruvian profit margin of products made from cacao, including cacao butter, liquor, paste, husks, and cocoa powder.
The Peruvian government has recognized the considerable benefits reaped by cacao production. National policy crafted after the 2017 increase in poverty levels illustrate that the government is specifically mindful of cacao production and hopes to bolster its distribution as a solution to poverty in Peru.
One of these policies includes the weeding out of illegal cocaine farms and offering the land to cacao farmers. The U.S has recently demonstrated its support for this strategy. In 2018, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined the Peruvian Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA) as well as a multitude of private businesses in Peru. The U.S. government has connected these farmers to a new international base through which they can expect a prosperous return on their delicious beans. The renewed farmlands furthermore provide new opportunities for the jobless as countless hands are needed to carefully harvest the cacao bean.
What Does the Future Hold?
As a result of Peru’s and the U.S.’s dual effort to protect and distribute Peruvian cacao beans, USAID has predicted that Peru’s exportation of this bean will more than double by 2021. A new partnership with the U.S. also establishes Peru’s intimate access to the $35 billion American confectionery industry. These statistics will suggest that poverty rates in Peru, specifically in rural areas, will once again begin to sink.
The cacao bean will continue to put smiles on faces across the world. As long as there is a hunger for delightful Peruvian dark chocolate, there will be a job opportunity for an individual living in poverty. The value of the cacao bean can therefore hardly be underestimated, and while economic instability is an arduous and persistent problem, the production of cacao beans provides a sweet solution to poverty in Peru.
– Annie O’Connell