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CATIE held the first Virtual Exhibition of Costa Rican Artisanal Chocolate
- Initiative seeks to support micro and small enterprises of artisanal chocolate that have been affected by COVID-19
In response to the economic crisis affecting Costa Rica as a result of the pandemic generated by COVID-19, CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research ad Higher Education Center) together with the Costa Rican Cocoa and Chocolate Institute (ICACAO, its Spanish acronym), organized the first edition of the Virtual exhibition of Costa Rican Artisanal Chocolate, which took place on August 12 through CATIE's Zoom and FacebookLive platforms.
According to Evelyn Chaves, sustainable agribusiness specialist from CATIE's Environmental Economics and Green Business Development Unit, the institution is aware of the difficult situation that many micro and small entrepreneurs of artisanal chocolate are going through and this directly affects the situation of national cocoa producers in rural areas (more than 4000 small and medium cocoa producers). "For this reason, with this activity we support the cocoa and chocolate value chain in the country, with the hope that this action will help the sector and add to the efforts to maintain jobs and a dynamic country-city trade", added Chaves.
Chaves indicated that CATIE, being an institution aware of the cocoa value chain through its sustainable agribusiness equipment and cocoa program and with the firm commitment of its authorities, has seen in this initiative an immediate contribution to Costa Rica.
In addition, she noted that the chocolate sector had an important link with the tourism sector, one of the most affected by the pandemic, according to a recent study 60% of these companies are linked to the tourism sector so they have been greatly affected by the pandemic, 35% have had to make reductions in working hours among their workers and 29% have had to suspend contracts, reported falls in sales between 50 and 76% of their products.
"This forces us to reinvent ourselves and challenges state institutions, academics and scientists, and private companies to carry out innovative initiatives to face this crisis in the short, medium and long term," explained Chaves.
Chaves added that MSMEs (MIPIMES) are characterized by developing a varied supply of high quality products, a strong component of social responsibility towards small producers and the environment, and their main input is fine aroma cocoa produced in the country.
This activity was supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG, its Spanish acronym), the leading institution in the Costa Rican agricultural sector, which makes a major effort to promote the cocoa value chain in Costa Rica, and the Programme to Strengthen MSMEs with an emphasis on Value Chains in the SICA Region, executed by the Secretariat of the Central American Agricultural Council (SECAC, its Spanish acronym).
Evelyn Chaves Jaén
Sustainable Agribusiness Specialist, CATIE
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