Kemito Ene: More than 300 cocoa and coffee producers turn adversity into an opportunity



Posted on 29 January 2024

In 2010, more than 460 Asháninka families from the Ene River basin, in the Central Peruvian Amazon, decided to join forces to venture into the production and sale of cocoa and coffee, while seeking a fair price that would allow them to improve the quality of life of their families. This is how they started the “Kemito Ene” indigenous enterprise. In a short time, this activity became a permanent income and an alternative to preserve the ecological balance of their territories, while strengthening the connection between the community - as a collective - and the biodiversity that surrounds it.

 

In the last 4 years, Kemito Ene, which means "Living Well" in English, has taken important steps, becoming a cooperative that has an organic certification that allows them to establish their points of sale outside of Peru and increase the commercial value of their products. In addition, it has involved more families to supply the current demand and diversify its products portfolio.

 

This project has also faced various adversities, such as the pandemic, the war in Europe, the interruption of supply chains due to the container crisis in the maritime transport sector, the international rise of the price of fertilizers, climate change, the El Niño phenomenon, and the political instability of Peru; making it difficult to export their products and distribute them nationally.

 

In response to this situation, Kemito Ene sought to reinvent itself once again. “Thanks to various training sessions we have received on marketing, sales and accounting, that have been provided by NESST - partner of the AIRR project -, we began to develop a commercial strategy that would motivate the purchase of our coffee and chocolate in new markets. Our objective is to expand our clients portfolio in national and international markets, in order to benefit our members and attract more families from the communities to join this venture,” said Felixto Cabanillas Contreras, president of the cooperative.

 

In May 2023, representatives of Kemito Ene made a commercial tour to Southeast Asia (Indonesia and Singapore) and the Thaifex-Anuga Asia trade event held in Bangkok (Thailand). They were seeking for their cocoa-derived products, such as chocolates, cocoa butter, nibs and powder, as well as roasted coffee beans and ground coffee, to be recognized and sought after by more customers in North America, Europe and (soon) Asia.

 

“Kemito Ene is an initiative that seeks to preserve the cultural wealth of the region and shows the worldview of the Asháninka people to the globe through their products. Regardless of the adversities, more than 340 members have managed to join, benefiting more than 1,500 people in their communities and managing 475 hectares of forest in a sustainable way. The dream is coming true, and they are working to sustain themselves in the future,” added Edith Condori, from WWF Peru.

 

Since 2021, Kemito Ene has been supported by regional organizations. It is also part of the business strengthening activities carried out within the framework of the Amazon Indigenous Rights and Resources project of the Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), NESsT and WWF Peru, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).