BOSQUES DE CACAO YARIGUIES
REGION: EL CARMEN DE CHUCURI, SANTANDER, COLOMBIA, IN THE COLOMBIAN ANDES
“Yariguies” the Indians (Yarigui) that lived here in the past are one of the only tribes that never surrendered to the Spanish empire and the last Indian died around 1930.
In the 1940's when my grandparents arrived from 2 different towns to this area, there were only mountains. In the 60's there were already many farmers living here, people that colonized this land like my grandparents. In 70's many farmers, including my parents started to harvest cacao.
I was born in 1982 and grew up on my parents’ farm (without electricity and in the middle of the war between "paramilitary" and "guerrilla" that finally ended in 1995). I harvested cacao until I was 17 years old. After that I finished university studies as a chemical engineer in 2007. In 2005 the government did a declaration of a park in this area, the "Parque Natural Nacional Serrania de los Yariguies", with an area of 60,000 hectares, and the main area belonging to my town (El Carmen de Chucuri).
In 2013 I started a project (Bosques de Cacao Yariguies) looking to save our heritage, prevent young farmers from moving to the cities due to lack of opportunity in rural areas, and to protect the environment. With this in mind, we started the challenge of find fair trade chocolate makers. The first years of our project we committed to learning about high quality cacao and their varieties, proper fermentation, proper drying, and proper cacao pod choice.
Now we are developing a tourism project around agroturismo, nature and cacao, where we teach the things we had been learning around high quality cacao and fine chocolates. While we strengthen the cocoa tradition and show young people that it is possible to change things, we will be linking other farmers with chocolate.