Located in the Alto Huayabamba in the Peruvian Amazon, the ACOPAGRO cooperative brings together over 1,500 smallholder cocoa and sugar cane farmers. It was founded in 1997 in order to replace the illegal coca crops with cocoa production. The farmers living along the Huayabamba river are isolated, stuck between the water and the forest. Founding the cooperative and integrating smallholders into Fairtrade networks has enabled them to pool their efforts so as to add value to their output, acquire organic certification and diversify revenue sources while protecting the environment.
The project involves planting native tree species, like the mahogany tree, within smallholders’ cocoa plantations. Thanks to technical support from the cooperative, smallholders now have a good understanding of agroforestry and agroecology principles, which enables them to successfully reconcile protecting the forest and developing their crop production.
There are therefore multiple objectives. The project aims to protect resources and regenerate ecosystems, develop high-yield agroforestry systems for cocoa, and ensure the communities’ sustainable self-sufficiency following the switch from coca to cocoa.
In 2016, the joint efforts from the local communities and public authorities lead to the project’s scope being widened to encompass conservation across 2.4 million hectares of land with Unesco Biosphere Reserve status.
AccorHotels supports cocoa farmers with organic and Fairtrade certification that live along the Huayabamba river. These smallholders wish to implement new farming systems and help regenerate areas degraded by coca farming or deforested to grow corn. More than 31,000 trees have already been planted to allow farmers to optimize cocoa production, as well as regenerate the ecosystem and diversify their revenues.