International Seminar Series: Creating Inclusive Conversations about Chocolate Quality with Cacao Producers
Title of Presentation: Creating Inclusive Conversations about Chocolate Quality with Cacao Producers: An Avenue to Food Justice.
Speaker: Christina Liberati, Project Manager at Equal Exchange, with Guests (Cacao producers from Latin America)
Presentation Overview: In 2010, Equal Exchange, together with TCHO Chocolate, embarked on a multi-year USAID project with the goal of strengthening the cooperatives in their supply chain and engaging with them in new and innovative ways. In order for small cacao farmers to succeed in international markets, their cooperatives must not only collect and process their product, but must also provide them with the knowledge and tools that help them to operate viable businesses, raise productivity levels, and add quality and value to those products. When this project started, there was no standardized methodology for assessing cocoa bean quality. In a strategic alliance with cooperatives from Peru, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic, we developed on tools to assess chocolate quality that are accessible to buyers as well as producers–who historically have been excluded from these conversations and thus have been limited in their ability to demand fairer prices for the quality of their products. Representatives from Equal Exchange and from producer cooperatives in Latin America will present on their work and its impacts to date.
Speaker Bio: Cristina Liberati is the Grant Projects Manager at Equal Exchange, and also a member of the Chocolate team there. Her work primarily focuses on the administration of a five-year USAID Co-operative Development Program with cacao and coffee producers. This grant centers on issues related to quality, productivity and capitalization in Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.
Series Overview: The International Seminar Series offers the Illinois State campus and Bloomington-Normal communities weekly opportunities to learn about a wide range of international topics. Guest speakers are usually experts in their fields across a range of disciplines who cover a wide array of cultural, historical, political and social topics.
Series events have become one of the most popular internationally focused events on campus and continue to draw ever-growing crowds of students, faculty and community members. Audience members are given time at each event to raise questions to enable a two-way participation and learning.
International Seminar Series events are free and open to the public, and occur every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bone Student Center. The fall 2017 series will focus on food justice and sustainability.