Cocos No Coca
In the remote villages along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua many people, young and old, are enticed into the dangerous world of transporting cocaine because of the money. In these remote areas there are no jobs, there is no industry, there is no way to make money except the drug trade. For the most part, families here are self sufficient. They grow and catch what they eat, but to buy extras, like toilet paper, rice, or clothes they need money.
Pastor Arlen Rios of the Baptist church of San Juan is attempting to change that. With a new village wide program named, Cocos NO Coca, pastor Rios and his followers have started collecting coconuts to sell to XAGRO S.A., a leading Nicaragua coconut processor and exporter. “People want to make an honest living” stated pastor Rios “and coconuts are Gods gift to us”. Working together the Cocos NO Coca program estimates that they will generate about C$175,000.00 Cordoba ($6,650.00 Dollars) per week for the community. That is the equivalent of 165 full time jobs.
XAGRO CEO, Ronald Ehli, stated that he is excited to work with the Cocos NO Coca program and hopes that it will spread to other communities. “There is no reason that the people living in the remote areas can not make a good living collecting and selling us coconuts” “The lack of roads and other infrastructure makes collecting and delivering the coconuts difficult, but working together the obstacles become small”.
The local government has also stepped in to help. In an agreement, XAGRO has been granted the exclusive right to harvest coconuts in the Caribbean zone, in exchcange, XAGRO will move part of its processing operations to San Juan creating 17 full time jobs, mostly women. The village men will collect the coconuts and bring them to the plant, where the women will sort and clean them before they get loaded into pangas, (small boats) and sent on a two day journey up the river to the nearest port in San Carlos. From the port XAGRO transfers the coconut into trucks for another 3 hour ride to its main plant for final processing and packaging for export.
Caribbean Coconuts is a brand name and registered Trade Mark of XAGRO S.A.