Empower the Arhuaco people to preserve their ancestral lands and cacaos in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia
Forced into the highlands for centuries by conquistadors, settlers and the coca wars, the Arhuaco tribe has recently returned to their sacred sites at the Caribbean coast. On the same land where coca and marijuana fueled the violence of the drug war not long ago, cacao is now the symbol of peace for the Arhuaco and their neighbours. However, of the little cacao that has survived the passing of times on their ancestral land, the harvest volumes are modest.
Among the native cacaos are several unique varieties, such as La Lengüeta with its exceptionally sweet, harmonious notes. Some cacao genetic scientists believe that the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta could have been the birthplace of the ancient criollo blanco, from where it dispersed south into the Amazon and further north to the Maya forests. The original beans of the Sierra Nevada are threatened by the boom in modern hybrid cocoa in the region, where a homogenous selection of non-Colombian cocoa hybrids has been selected to replace the great diversity of native cacaos.
The Arhuaco farmers are determined to preserve the ancient cacaos, since they fit perfectly with their traditional philosophy and lifestyle based on organic and forest-friendly farming.