On this special day, the International Women’s Day, we would like to present you one woman that is at the heart of our Chocolate Revolution. After having lived in the Alto Huayabamba valley for a very long time, Pasiona has a lot to share…
Hello, my name is Pasiona Caballero Mendoza and I live in Pucallpillo. Forty years ago, I left Lima and came here. For many years however, we grew coca and the terror and drug trafficking of those days have taken their toll on our lives. We decided to make an end to the cultivation of coca. NGOs came to the Alto Huayabamba bringing cocoa as an alternative and helping us to change our way of living and working. We then turned to cocoa and we have continued to cultivate it up to these days. Nevertheless this switch was not easy and has also taken us through several crisis, I have to say.
With Choba Choba, we have now reached a new level, being co-owners of an international chocolate brand. This is a big step forward and a true success! We are very happy to be able to work hand in hand with consumers from the other end of the world and to change the chocolate business together.
What do you and the other women here expect from Choba Choba? Do you think this project will empower you more?
Definitely! We think that with Choba Choba our cacao can reach more people, especially outside of Peru. It has always been our dream that our cacao is known by more people outside of our region and that it becomes really successful.
In Choba Choba, I see a new perspective for our growth and it is absolutely essential to us.
What kind of work do the women here typically do?
Since the years of the coca, the women have always engaged in everything, be it in the fields helping with the harvest or at home taking care of the household. We have done all types of work! Today, with the production of cocoa we continue working in the fields and in the house. Yes, you can say that we the women actually do the double amount of work. And apart from that, many of us are even involved in different associations.
There is a strong cohesion between the women here in the communities. How do you get organized?
Together with seven women from Pucallpillo, we have created a “committee for businesswomen”. Thanks to this organization, we could increase the value of our cacao a little more since we no longer only sell beans but also chocolate products we create ourselves. This helps us to provide additional financial support to our families. We grind the cocoa beans by hand blending it with cornmeal. This powder, called “chocomais”, we then use to prepare very nourishing beverages for children and adults. We also make chocolate candies. For all our products we use our own cocoa. We sell our chocolate products on the local markets and even in other regions of Peru. This is an example of how we women collaborate here.
Do you also work together with other women in the Alto Huayabamba?
Yes, we are strongly connected to other women’s associations in the valley. In the village Huicungo, there is another committee where the women make a very similar product by using cocoa and rice flour to create “chocoarroz”. In Santa Rosa for example, the women mix wheat flour with ground cocoa to make “chocotrigo” and in the community of Dos de Mayo they make “chocoplatano” from plaintain and cocoa. By working all together, we can thus offer a greater variety of products. And so we visit the markets all together with the four different organizations where we sell our products. That’s how we work.
I find these communal organizations very important, because we really benefit from them. They help us to move forward, step by step towards success. The closer we work together, the better the result!
What is your message to all the women on this very special day?
I wish to all the women in Peru and in every corner of the earth a very beautiful day. May they be successful in all of their projects and always keep on moving forward!
Pasiona, Choba Choba cacao farmer & co-founder, patron of our 64% chocolate bar “Pasiona”