7 June 2019, Amsterdam. A cooperative of indigenous cocoa producers based in a remote part of the Peruvian rainforest has been awarded the biennial UN Development Programme’s Equator Prize in recognition of its “outstanding community effort to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.”
Kemito Ene (“cocoa from the Ene River”) was incorporated in 2010, with support from the Rainforest Foundation UK, (RFUK) and the Asháninka indigenous association Central Asháninka del Río Ene (CARE), to help improve the livelihoods of indigenous Asháninka families, who largely depend on the rainforest for survival. RFUK has worked with the Asháninka since 1998, as Peru was emerging from an era of violent conflict during which thousands of Asháninka perished or were forced to flee their homes.
Cocoa production now represents an important source of monetary income for the Asháninka, helping pay for medicines, school materials and other necessities. Most importantly, the cocoa can be grown under the forest canopy, a feature that not only prevents deforestation but also results in better flavour and more diverse crops.
Since 2010, thanks to the efforts of Kemito Ene and CARE, cocoa production has increased from 1.5 tonnes to 90 tonnes. Through Kemito Ene’s work, the quality of cocoa has attracted the attention of international buyers, like organic ethical chocolate-maker Loving Earth, who signed a partnership with the Asháninka-run cooperative three years ago, bringing its cocoa products to shops in the UK, Europe and US for the first time.
The Common Fund for Commodities has supported the Asháninka community by financing new equipment for the post-harvest process, resulting in an increase in the quality of the cocoa produced. The CFC’s intervention was implemented through a Development Impact Bond, an innovative performance based financing instrument. The CFC is proud to have contributed to the success of Kemito Ene with the past project, and intends to finance further expansion of cocoa production by Asháninka, in line with its mandate of financing commodity producers and vulnerable people worldwide.
The CFC is proud that a financed project has been internationally recognized for its contribution to reducing poverty whilst also helping to conserve one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.