The Paradise of Manga del Cura
This small town in the region of rural Ecuador called El Paraiso la Manga del Cura (The Paradise of Manga del Cura) where farmers produce a number of crops such as cacao, bananas, passion fruit, plantains, and many more. The farmers make perhaps $1 per pound selling these crops to middlemen who then re-sell to other exporters. These middlemen and exporters make a huge profit off the labor of these rural farms who have no access to international markets.
As one of the founders of RoyalCacao USA and Vasallo Esmeraldas Sociedad de Hecho in Ecuador, my business partner Geomar, his wife Veronica and myself, Michael, working from our own pockets, partner with local business and farmers bridging this invisibility gap helping them to introduce their products to the international marketplace. We also assist farmers with technical assistance in their process and ideas for alternative, in-demand, crops such as vanilla.
The vanilla production here in Ecuador has proven to be a very successful crop for a few wealthy plantation owners. The reality is, it is a pretty simple crop to grow and the vanilla vines can be cut to produce more plants. In just one year one vine can produce 40 more new vines.
We recently met with 38 farmers in this region and introduced the concept of vanilla as a new crop for them. Everyone there was very interested and amazed to learn 1 pound of vanilla beans on the international market retails for around $250 where the cacao beans they produce might retail for between $8 and $15 dollars. To have access to the production of vanilla would be a life-changing crop.
Currently, the supply of vanilla seedlings is low in Ecuador because everyone is using new vines for their own greenhouses—at $15 a vine the price is out of reach for the farmers to buy starter plants. We have donated to this venture part of our supply of vanilla seedlings but with 25 donated vines, it's not enough to reach critical mass in the near future.
I am reaching out to the world community to help this small community buy 100 plants at $15 each to start the process of creating cuttings with the goal of having their first greenhouse up and running with 3,500 cuttings after just one year.
A donation of $7.50 would buy half a vine and a donation of $15 would buy one vine which would turn into 36 vines in one year.
With each vine producing 150g of dried vanilla beans its first year of production, your donation could easily return about $2,000 to the farmer during the first production cycle and much more thereafter.