The communities of San Miguel de Rio and San Miguel de la Mar live in very precarious conditions, making them susceptible to fall in the hands of cartels that operate in the region, which worsens they present situation by bringing violence and fear to the population.
Most of them have no income to send their children to school that is located 30 minutes away by boat. When they get sick they have to wait until a boat passes or the day comes to go to Timbiqui to see a doctor or buy some medicine at the pharmacies. Public services do not exist, such potable water, sewerage system, waste management, etc. Most of the garbage ends up in the river, which is also contaminated with mercury caused by the illegal gold mining activities upstream.
Some members of the community have migrated to big cities like Cali, Buenaventura, Medellin or Bogota hoping for better days, where in reality they fall victims of discrimination for being black, they are excluded from the society and absorbed by criminal gangs that introduced them in the world of drugs, prostitution and crime.
Itapoa Project had been working in the territory for the last 3 years supporting some families of the 2 communities to start nurseries of cacao plants and hoping to get funding to help them plant the tress in the field. So far, few families had begun to transplant the trees to the field. All this is done with the guidance of Raul Nieto, the director of the project, and other Biologists who have been visiting the area and had done their part in supporting the project. Our approach is purely sustainable and organic and we only approve to plant the cacao in deforested areas that they have cleared before. We hope that specialized markets around the world would be interested in consuming chocolate products with added social and environmental values.
Normally, a sack of 50 kilograms of in the regular international market fluctuates around 70 US$, the sack of the same weight of cacao 50 kilograms but organic and sustainable could go up to 170 US$.
The goal of the project is to make the community sign an agreement not to cut primary forest anymore once they see that the financial benefits from having planted and produce cacao in deforested areas or previous coca fields. This is something that it has been done in the community of Tesoro Escondido in Ecuador, where we preserve habitat for another critically endangered amphibian, Chocranella mache, a glass frog and the critical endangered Brown Headed Spider Monkey Ateles fusciceps.