Twenty years ago the Huicungo community in the San Martin region in Peru used to plant coca and sell cocaine. Today, the inhabitants have traded this business for cocoa plantations to produce chocolate.
“These were times when cocaine was sold as if it were a kilo of sugar or rice, showing how high the demand was and leading to an increase in trafficking”, said Augusto Sangama, a resident of the sector, to Mongabay news. According to him, the majority of local farmers were engaged in the illicit activity of coca cultivation, from which cocaine is produced.
In the year 2000 the eradication of illegal coca crops and the capture of the primary narco-terrorists who controlled the area many farmers were forced to find another way to support themselves and their families and began growing citrus fruit.
“Sangama’s association, Apahui, currently has 120 partners that sell their raw material with an organic certification that they were able to obtain in 2014. Now the profits have allowed them to buy new machinery to dry and process the cocoa they export especially to Europe”, wrote Mongabay.
There are many success stories today, in this and other communities as well, such as Santa Rosa and Pucallpillo. This one exports cocoa for the production of Gaggo Milk who makes chocolate bars.
Winston Ruíz Weninger, who was born in the village of Dos de Mayo said to Mongabay that he saw how his parents and grandparents had to work hard to break free from their dependency on illegal coca cultivation. He is today a forestry engineer in the Association for the Protection of Communal Forests of Dos de Mayo – Alto Huayabamba (Aproboc).