This is the story of how an entrepreneurial cocoa project brought change to a Colombian region and now provides future for their people.
There is a legend around the name of Necoclí. People say that a tired traveler, passing through the region was thirsty, so he asked for something to drink, but people answered: “Ni ‘coclí’”, there is not even ‘coclí’, ‘coclí’ being a common beverage from this area.
Necoclí, also known as the Caribbean Pearl, is a town founded in 1509, located in the sub region of Urabá in the Antioquia department, bordering in the north and west with the Caribbean Sea, and to the east with a town called Arboletes, south of the town of Turbo.
A few years ago, CasaLuker launched an ambitious project called –Inversiones Necoclí, un Proyecto Cacao Fino de Aroma – which involved planting 550 hectares of cocoa. This initiative has generated positive change for the families in Necoclí.
The project has become a centre-point of hope for the community promising education, work, opportunities and a brighter future.
This story is set on a farm called “El Rosario,” which includes 550 hectares of a whole agroforestry system including Melina, plantain and, the main product, cocoa plantations. The system has three crops, where there’s always a main one supported by the other two. While employees keep working on the main crop, the other two harvests contribute to the development of this main crop. The plantain is a short term income since it’s already producing after only 9 months. The cocoa tree is a mid-term income since its high production phase will happen in three to four years. The Melina trees is a long term period income since its first logging period is programmed at the third year and then again during 7 more years. The basic concept involves a support system, where every plantation receives benefits from shade, fertilizers, soil conservation, and even birds.
These cocoa plants will be productive for 20 years, meaning that they will provide 20 years of future for the community since the agroforesty system makes sure there’s always production. Three years ago, the farm was a cattle ranch and employed only six workers. Nowadays, there’s an average of 150 permanent employees, and, at the end of this year, when harvest time begins, an average of 330 employees will be working at the farm.
In the village “Buenos Aires”, we support three schools of 150 children between 6 and 16 years old impacting dozens of families. The – Escuela Buenos Aires – didn’t have a formal toilet. Now, thanks to the project, they have a brand new toilet built for the children.
It also gives job opportunities to people in the village. For example, Marlon, a young boy whose life changed drastically when he began to work at the farm: On Monday, I was going to go off to war and work for the violent armed groups, but they called me from this farm so I didn’t leave. I was put in charge of measuring the land with a GPS device. I didn’t even know how to work a computer. I mean, once you set your mind to something, you get on with it. You shouldn’t just look at your present, but keep an eye on tomorrow too,” claims Marlon.
Victor lives in a remote area near Necoclí, and works at El Rosario farm. His life too was changed enormously thanks to the project. When CasaLuker arrived there were no roads and people, especially Victor, had trouble moving around. Once the project started, roads were built to facilitate transportation and recently Victor bought a motorcycle, which he uses on weekends to go to school with his nineteen-year-old daughter.
“Even I went back to study because it is such a big project that it has opened new pathways and these new pathways have benefitted our communities. Now we see life differently, because uncertainty doesn’t allow people to plan and progress”
In order to continue supporting the community, CasaLuker promotes the implementation of vegetable plots next to each home to create a self-sustaining nutrition program. Women didn’t use to work or have any kind of income. Now they are in charge of the greenhouse program for which they were chosen because of their responsible behavior and delicate skills: traits that the job demands because of the close attention to detail required. These women will soon be in charge of the grafting techniques making them even more important for the family circle.
The Necoclí project is an example of renovation helping families finding their way out of poverty, the lack of opportunities and an environment affected by violence. There is a brighter future ahead for the upcoming generations: when they talk about the violence it is going to be in past tense.
With this project, CasaLuker is producing the best Cacao Fino de Aroma in order to offer customers and clients an excellent raw material, that’s a 100% traceable. We are also giving hope to a neglected town that three years ago didn’t believe in its own potential. Now, its people are waking up to a brighter future.
Download here Noticia Necoclí.pdf