Throughout the last 20 months during the course of the COVID pandemic, we’ve continued to enjoy our delicious chocolate here in the UK, but have we paused to think of the farming communities behind all our great British brands and how they have been managing?
On World Chocolate day we thought we’d touch base with our Colombian chocolate supplier, Luker to see how they’ve fared over the last 20 months.
Chocolate in Colombia is a staple part of the nations diet, not simply a luxury treat as we enjoy it here in the UK – enjoyed every day as part of breakfast, it is a longstanding cultural tradition. A hefty and wholesome start to the day it is served with an arepa or a piece of bread, and in the capital city Bogata it is often enjoyed with a piece of local cheese dropped into the hot chocolate. So, being such an essential part of the day, when families were all at home during the lengthy lock down, demand for the chocolate increased, placing additional pressures on a supply chain, facing the difficulties of a reduced workforce under the rules surrounding a national lockdown.
Although infection rates have been lower in rural Colombia in comparison to the large cities, there have been challenges to overcome as, in turn any government support and health services have been more difficult to access. Through The Chocolate Dream, Luker have established initiatives for remote teaching along with improving the internet connectivity, donation of books and working on a program of mentoring to ensure as many children as possible could continue to access education. Agricultural support staff are working with the farming communities, making sure that new planting continues whilst they provided the farmers with food, basic hygiene and protection kits, as well as keeping the farmers up to date with relevant safety information throughout.
In Neccocli, where Luker has one of its cocoa farms, they’ve witnessed the community pulling together to support one another and find solutions to the everyday challenges faced by many. Helpfully, the farmers grow much of their own food and this has enabled them to continue to provide for their families – due to this area being part of a coastal region, as well as growing their own fruit and vegetable, local fishing has provided a nutritious food. Silvia Hoyos, Occupational Health and Safety Assistant on Luker’s farm said “ people in rural areas share their food and live as a community. We are privileged. Anyone, during this situation, wishes they were in the countryside and not in the city.”
Over the years we’ve partnered with Luker Chocolate to contribute to their vision of The Chocolate Dream – a collaborative plan through which Luker Chocolate strives to transform the cocoa growing communities through education, entrepreneurship, art and culture, agricultural development and job creation in the countryside and we continue to do so, as Luker makes sure they and their communities produce the very best in ethical and sustainable chocolate, so you and I can enjoy our delicious chocolate on today, World Chocolate Day.