Implementing a ‘Sustainable Matrix Model’ within a biodiversity hotspot, the Ecuadorian Chocó
The aim is to implement the ‘sustainable matrix model’ successfully developed by the NGO Proyecto Washu/Fundación Naturaleza y Arte with cacao farmers of three different communities in North-West Ecuador. To achieve this, we seek to conduct a participative process for decision making in the project, strengthen the local capacities of participants, especially in harvest and post-harvest techniques of Arriba Cacao, start a transition from conventional to organic farming, and promote activities to cut the trade chain of cacao. Simultaneously we expect to protect the remaining forest within the farms involved, and increase the knowledge and awareness of locals regarding nature protection.
Participatory workshops will be conducted with the farmers and their families to agree on the needs and visions of the community. To start the transition towards a sustainable land management, all farms will be mapped and categorized according to the land use, and areas for farming and forest protection will be defined. Workshops in organic farming, harvest/post-harvest cacao techniques and chocolate production will be imparted, and exchanges with other communities will be held; potential ethical cacao buyers will be contacted. Additionally, environmental education activities based on the principles of sustainability will be conducted with the families of the communities.