Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández has officially opened the Cooperativa Agrícola Santalária Limitada – a chocolate producing co-op that will export to Holland, France and Chile.
Supported by the World Bank, the co-op will benefit 534 cocoa producers in Honduras, creating 35 permanent jobs, 15 temporary jobs and 6,500 indirect jobs.
The chocolate factory, in the town of La Entrada in the Copán region in the north west of Honduras, received an investment of 50 million lempiras (£1.5M) from sources including the Honduran national bank and small business funders The José María Covelo Foundation and The Rural Competitiveness Project (ComRural), which is financed by the World Bank.
The co-op will produce at least 18 varieties of world-class gourmet chocolate under the XOL brand, which will be exported to European and American countries.
President Hernández said: “Cocoa should replicate the model of quality coffee that is exported around the world. I am sure that because of the high quality of the cocoa we produce at the heart of the Mayan civilisation, we are going to export the best chocolate in the world to other markets.”
Cooperativa Agrícola’s general manager, José Serrano, said: “The new plant is a dream come true, thanks to help from ComRural, the World Bank, the Covelo Foundation and the National Coffee Fund.
“I am sure that cocoa will boost the country’s economy. It’s the rebirth of Mayan culture with cocoa.”
Mr Serrano hopes the opening of the new factory will also encourage chocolate tourism in the region.