Stakeholders from Ecuador's cocoa sector and its derivatives reviewed an export policy for green products of Ecuador, commissioned by UNCTAD, and validated a draft National Action Plan for the cocoa-chocolate sector.
A workshop on Ecuador's National Green Export Review - focusing on the issue of sustainability in the cocoa and chocolate -- was organized by UNCTAD and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Trade in Quito, Ecuador on 25 February.
Participants included representatives from the private sector engaged in cocoa and chocolate production and exports, the Ministries of Environment, Agriculture, Exports Policy and Foreign Trade.
They discussed and validated an Action Plan containing strategic guidelines and actions required to promote production and exports of cocoa and value-added chocolate, drawing upon local conditions and suggestions provided in the UNCTAD study on National Green Exports Review of Ecuador.
The validated Action Plan for the development of sustainable cocoa and its derivate products in Ecuador identifies by who, when and how different actions need to be performed in order to achieve two particular objectives between 2015 and 2019, namely:
Creation and strengthening of a dynamic basis of sustainable cocoa and cocoa products
Improvement of conditions of access to international markets.
"This proposal will help government entities and other stakeholders to have a vision for adding value and positioning "green" cocoa and chocolate exports from Ecuador -- said UNCTAD's consultant who developed the draft National Action Plan - "Cocoa and derivatives are already the third agricultural export product of Ecuador and about 4 per cent of all cocoa production in Ecuador is Organic."
Participants discussed the pros and cons of the different actions and actors involved in them, reaching a consensus on the National Action Plan. The validated plan will be submitted for official approval by the Ministry of Foreign Trade, in order to start its implementation as soon as possible.
Among the action points discussed, participants made reference to the need to improve national governance structure, productivity, traceability, associativity, differentiation of cocoa varieties and chocolates (national cocoa, both refined and aromatic, vs. CCN51 variety), use of geographical indications and sectorial trademarks, distribution and marketing.
Juan Francisco Ballén, Vice-Minister of Policy and Services of Foreign Trade expressed the full support of the Ministry of Foreign Trade to the cocoa-chocolate sector in this process towards enhanced sustainability and further emphasized that this process requires everyone's support.
David Vivas, legal officer at UNCTAD, noted that consumption patterns are changing, especially in Asia, and that by 2025, there will not be enough cocoa grains to cover global demand. This offers both great opportunities and challenges at the same time. Taking this into account, Mr. Vivas highlighted the importance of Ecuador's positioning as the "Land of Chocolate" in the global market.
"We have chocolate, the best in the world - said Jorge Chávez, advisor at the Undersecretariat for Industrial Development of Ecuador- what we are missing is the required chauvinism to promote it".
Ecuador needs to enhance its market access, distribution and marketing and commercialization strategies if it wants to position itself in the value chain. Product sustainability is a key issue for access to international markets. Ecuador, supported by UNCTAD, is actively taking the initiative in establishing the required actions with their respective timelines for their implementation.
The objectives are to promote and consolidate national exports of cocoa and its derivatives that are more sustainable and more competitive at the international level, and contribute to a transition towards a more sustainable economic development path.