Arauca is one of the 32 administrative departments of Colombia and is part of the more prominent geographic region of the Llanos Orientales (western flatlands). The Orinoco River Basin, the third biggest basin in South America drained by one of the most important rivers in the world, represents a valley of evolution and propagation of the criollo genetic lineage.
Arauca was named after the Arauca River, which now separates it from Venezuela, and it’s a big affluent of Orinoco River.
Their oldest plantations are 70 years old and are entirely part of the domesticated criollo lineage. These plants are currently in danger because of the spread of new high-yielding clones in the region.
Arauca has a unique biodiversity of flora and fauna and high potential in the touristic offer, which has always been limited by the violence and safety issues.
Arauca has been militarily occupied for years by FARC and ELN, left-wing guerrilla armies.
With the peace process, tension is lowering down, and in between the various alternatives to coca leaf production, the most economically sustainable crop for families is cacao.
Arauca is one of the only regions where entire families depend explicitly on cacao growing; hence the knowledge of cacao is deeper. These families that this region hosts have a long tradition of several generations that produce and grow cacao.
These cacao-growing communities strongly rely on their crafting abilities to enhance the different elements of infrastructure in the producing chain, such as the hand-making of the “Caña brava” drying beds as well as the wooden fermentation boxes. This ancestral knowledge is passed through generations and is also well-valued by other cacao-growing communities around the country that regard it as high-quality craftsmanship that provides an added value to the production.
Its vicinity with Venezuela means that, often, these communities are divided across the basin at each side of the river in different territories. The country borderline thus means little to these populations that share cultural and agricultural knowledge and have been growing simultaneously.