A chocolate factory in the rainforest

When people living in the rainforest have cash, they have a choice. And for the Awajún, this enabled them to build a chocolate factory in the middle of the rainforest.

For anyone in the chocolate making biz, transforming raw cacao to chocolate in humid conditions is not just challenging, it’s a risk. You need stable conditions to ferment beans, world class equipment to process and an expert team of producers to transform cacao into the final product we all know and love. So the idea of chocolate being made deep in tropical rainforest? Near impossible.

But not for Wilson.

Against all odds, Wilson Barturen and the people of Urakuza built a chocolate factory in the heart of the Amazon. Not just because chocolate is delicious but because for the Awajún, chocolate is a lifeline.

A pile of freshly harvested cacao pods.

Cacao pods

The factory opened in June ‘22 and began producing chocolate bars, cacao juice, ice cream and liquor. In the first six months, 15 tonnes of cacao was processed and sold. A growers association, Pamuk Bakau, was also formed involving 100 local growers in order to get better prices for their product and have commercial power in numbers.

“There is great potential and we are planning to bring it to the next level” 
– Wilson Barturen, Cool Earth

Business ventures, like growing and processing cacao, strengthens communities by creating financial security. That financial security ensures that people living in the rainforest, such as those in Urakuza, are more resilient. Their resilience is the most effective way of reducing the vulnerability of the ecosystems in which they live. Cash creates unlimited ways to protect indigenous and local lives, biodiversity, rainforest health and the health of our planet. Wherever it is spent it meets the needs of the best protectors of rainforest on Earth.