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A pile of multicoloured cacao pods fills the frame.

Chocolate: A sweet deal for the Asháninka

Asháninka chocolate from Cool Earth’s Peru partnership is the sweetest weapon against deforestation there is. Shade-grown and then sun-drenched, the prized Criollo beans are sold through a cooperative, with the money re-invested to strengthen the whole community.

The world’s appetite for chocolate is growing by the day. Last year, about seven and a half million tons of chocolate were consumed worldwide. This demand is putting pressure on rainforest communities to sell land to big cocoa producers willing to destroy great swathes of forest to grow this valuable crop.

But rainforest protection and cacao production can go hand in hand.

Under the rainforest canopy is the perfect place to grow chocolate. Shade-growing cacao this way is more labour intensive than the big commercial cacao farms that clear rainforest to make way for row upon row of cacao bushes. But it makes for a much better bean. And better beans mean a higher price at market.

Cacao beans dry in a solar drier in Tinkareni, Peru.

The Asháninka villages Cool Earth works within the Peruvian Amazon have always grown chocolate this way. They know more about the plant than anyone. All Cool Earth has done is provide a technician and tools to increase yield and crop quality, and training in how to access those markets. It’s transformed a simple crop into a strategy to outprice forest destruction. With the expert advice of Saul, the Asháninka cacao technician, last year’s crop was the best yet. As well as striking deals with local cooperatives, the community has sold their highest quality Criollo beans to the UK to be handmade into rich, fruity chocolate.

Delicious artisanal chocolate for you and a sustainable income for our rainforest partners. That’s a sweet deal.

You can buy this rainforest-saving chocolate here.