the week of April 21st to the 25th, very important events for the
country were conducted in Vinces, Montecristi, Quito and Guayaquil.
It was here that the Arriba Cocoa and Montecristi Hat were presented
with the Ecuadorian seals of protected designation of origin. This
was no small feat, as designations of origin are geographical
indicators that are applied to a product, certifying its quality due
to its characteristics of origin, processing and preparation that are
unique and unrepeatable.
objective of this presentation is to let the world know the
importance of the Arriba Cocoa and the Montecristi Hat, two products
that are not only relevant for flavor or presentation, but that
involve the voluntary work of an entire region, its idiosyncrasy and
culture. But how much do we Ecuadorians know about the history of
these two flagship products?
chronicle intends to tell a story of one of those two products:
Arriba Cocoa. Most of this information has been taken from the
website www.elgrancocoa.ee, an audiovisual project by the Ecuadorian
Institute of Intellectual Property whose rights are protected by
years ago the Palanda, a community that was organized in villages of
round houses inhabited the southern part of the Ecuadorian Amazon,
more precisely what is now the province of Zamora Chinchipe. They
belonged to the May-Chinchipe culture, which is basically supported
2002, archaeologist Francisco Valdez led some research and
excavations in which some offerings containing food scraps were found
in the tombs of the Palanda. Thanks to various chemical tests with
carbon 14 (element used in dating organic specimens), the presence of
traces of theobroma or cocoa was determined in many of their clay
pots. According to Valdez, this was an "energy drink that was
sent to the afterlife with the dead."
other features, this discovery proved that cocoa had been
domesticated 2000 years before cocoa in Central America. The variety
grown by Palanda was precisely what characterizes the country, the
fine aroma cocoa. The Santa Ana Temple of Florida allowed Ecuador to
request the origin of cocoa title. Likewise, the myth that only
barbaric civilizations and not organized ones existed in the Amazon
was shot down.
addition, in this area, remains of Strombus and Spondylus seashells
were also found. This showed the level of trade reached by these
cultures, which with no doubt moved cocoa to coastal zones.
and the fortuitous designation of origin
to the popularity of the drink xcoatl (where the name chocolate comes
from) made by the Mexican cultures, and which was offered to the
Spanish colonizers, the fruit suddenly was in great demand.
Unfortunately for the country in the mid-sixteenth century, the
exploitation of cocoa could only be done under Royal Charter granted
by Spain, the same that was given to Mexico and Venezuela, among
others, but not Ecuador.
several entrepreneurs from Guayaquil ignored the warnings and decided
to sow and trade the plant despite its prohibition. The Ecuadorian
cocoa was illegally distributed during this time, but when arriving
at different ports of the world, and its origin was stated, higher
prices were paid for it. All other producing countries raised several
objections regarding these acts, but in the end the Ecuadorian
product would achieve Royal Decree by the late eighteenth century.
plantations spread during these periods on the banks of the Guayas,
Daule and Babahoyo rivers. To access these rivers you would have to
go upstream. When people asked where cocoa originated, the answer was
"above". And it is this little anecdote from history, which
gives name to the fruity aroma cocoa produced in this part of the
and the cocoa boom
struggle for independence would bear fruit in 1830. Indeed, many of
the cocoa plantations earmarked several of its profits to promote the
emancipation of the country and subsequent strengthening. These large
estates were called Big Cocoa and made up to 60 percent of exports
before the banana. Taxes payed were above that percentage.
the late nineteenth century Ecuador became the largest exporter of
cocoa. The production of three provinces: Guayas, Los Ríos and El
Oro, was exported to the world from the port of Guayaquil. Over one
million quintals crossed the ocean to especially reach Europe. The
bases of the country were strengthened through the hard work of the
hands of cocoa farmers, who made it the engine of the national
history of cocoa in Ecuador is extensive. In fact, the early years of
the twentieth century were tragic due to the emergence of several
pests that stopped the cocoa boom. But these facts failed to halt the
production of the world's finest cocoa. In a future chronicle, ANEPI
will continue the story of the great history of cocoa.