Solar Power for Cocoa Farmers in Peru - Video
Hercules, CA, Sun, 01 Jul 2012
The Multiple Organics Give-Back Program. As part of our overall corporate social responsibility efforts, Multiple Organics sponsors “give-back” programs aimed worldwide at the organic supplier base of farmers and their communities in appreciation of their devotion to the production of safe organic food products of the highest quality. We focus these efforts in communities that share our passion for organics and our fanaticism about food safety and quality. These efforts are initiated at the earliest opportunity, designed with sustainability in mind, often long before a seed is even planted. By working in conjunction with the local processing facilities that intake, clean and ready the raw organic agricultural ingredients for shipment to Multiple Organics, we are able to ensure that the programs are continuously tracked and monitored so that the impact of financial and other contributions can be measured. This is made possible because our local processors regularly have agronomists, field agents and consultants in all the farm areas where we provide assistance.
Multiple Organics’ programs are more effective than the typical “send money and hope” programs. Far from the “one and done” programs that too often do more harm than good, our programs are only undertaken if they are sustainable, with full farmer buy-in. In order to assure that buy-in, the specific programs we pursue are not reflections of our ideas about what will improve the quality of farmer family lives, but through surveys and working with the intelligence of our local processors and other resources, the programs we settle on are those programs the farmers themselves identify as meaningful as priorities for them. The give-back program is the heart and soul of what we do at Multiple Organics. In the end, success is shared with partners who have contributed to that success. We have also formed The MOST Foundation, to further the work we have done in various regions of the world and facilitate the participation of like-minded people in these valuable programs and others like it.
Lighting the Lives of Farmers – Concept: One give-back program is currently active in Peru. Multiple Organics and its processor partners surveyed organic cacao farmers in Peru to find out which high-priority needs we could help meet through sustainable means. The response? Light! A basic necessity that we take for granted, but a gift that our farmer families do not generally enjoy outside of daylight hours, since electricity is simply unavailable in the farm hinterlands and (according to local authorities) will never be provisioned out to remote farms. Farmer families historically travel hours in cold winters and unbearable summer heat to the closest town to buy candles or kerosene, whichever might be cheapest at the time. As a result, the most basic tasks of daily life are performed after the sun sets to flickering candle light. What we take for granted, such as our children being able to do their schoolwork, is a virtual impossibility. If education is the essential foundation to the cultural integrity and prosperity of any society, then the ability to read and do homework in the evening is a basic requirement. We give no second thought to a visit to the bathroom in the middle of the night. In the farmlands of Peru, basic bodily functions take on new significance when the “outhouse” is fifty meters away.
Lighting the Lives of Farmers – Program: To address the basic lighting needs of our farmer partners, we researched and sourced compact solar panels, each about the size of an iPad and drawing enough renewable solar energy to power a unique multipurpose light for about 60 hours per charge. These lights illuminate not only the main living quarters as a ceiling light, but may be easily removed for use as a portable flashlight wherever needed, including trips to the outhouse in the middle of the night. Arduous journeys to town to buy candles are no longer a matter of urgent need, but when convenient.
These solar panels were provided by Multiple Organics, installed by our in-country processor partners and are maintained by those partners. The lights provide sustainable, steady light at no cost to the farmers.
Hernesto Panduro Salas and his family are growing organic cacao on six hectares (approximately 15 acres) outside of Taropoto, Peru. The family had previously grown bananas and beans, low margin commodities, on a non-organic basis. Substituting cacao allowed him to move to organic production about four and a half years ago. The Salas family had a solar unit installed in September 2011. A Multiple Organics team visited the family in December 2011 to check on how their solar light was received.