The doTERRA Co-Impact Sourcing initiative in Guatemala provides cardamom growers with economic stability, higher returns for their production, improved livelihoods, and training to ensure optimal quality and oil yield from their cardamom plants.
Cardamom in Guatemala
Guatemala was chosen as the Co-Impact Sourcing location for doTERRA’s Cardamom essential oil because the environment in Alta Verapaz is particularly conducive to the cardamom plant. The hot, humid, rainy weather, paired with the nutrient-rich clay soil, produces the perfect balance of the therapeutic chemical components targeted in doTERRA’s CPTG® Cardamom essential oil.
Only one percent of the world’s cardamom plants are distilled for essential oil, while the balance is harvested and sold into the global spice market. Guatemala is the world’s largest exporter of cardamom for the spice market. The production market for cardamom, however, has historically been rather unstable in Alta Verapaz. Because this area is so remote and transportation so difficult, small farmers are often left with few options and are typically forced to sell their cardamom to middlemen at lower prices. The middlemen then resell the cardamom at higher prices. This exchange leaves the farmers in a tight economic spot as they try to produce quality cardamom and make a profit on their crops.
doTERRA’s Co-Impact Sourcing Initiative in Guatemala
By partnering with doTERRA in a Co-Impact Sourcing program, cardamom growers in Guatemala receive several benefits through working together within cooperatives. First, small farmers are able to earn predictable, stable incomes for their families, as well as participate in the collective benefits provided by the cooperatives, including resources and technical assistance for improved methods of growing their cardamom plants. Such collective benefits often enable members to obtain better pricing on agricultural inputs, better access to financial instruments, and access to collectively owned drying facilities that result in the harvesters receiving fair pricing for their cardamom production. Additionally, doTERRA contributes a portion of the purchase of every kilogram of cardamom directly to the harvesting communities to build schools, hospitals, and other community-benefitting projects for improved livelihoods.
Healing Hands FoundationTM Involvement
In a partnership with CHOICE Humanitarian, the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation provided funding toward an exciting venture to build a new training center: the Sika’abe center. In Q’eqchi, the indigenous Mayan language of the local people, “Sika’abe” means “seek your path.” Suitably, the Sika’abe center, located in the heart of Alta Verapaz in the Polochic Valley, focuses primarily on breaking the cycle of poverty by teaching students both young and old vocational skills from construction to hospitality to agriculture.
In 2016, the doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation and CHOICE Humanitarian also supported the building of a new drying facility in Guatemala as part of doTERRA’s Co-Impact Sourcing initiative. As it takes growers several days to harvest cardamom plants, and a healthy shelf-life of cardamom is typically only three days, traveling long distances to a drying facility meant that the plants were often past their peak freshness before they could be dried. With the establishment of the new drying facility, cardamom growers in Guatemala now have the resources to dry their plants immediately after harvesting. Drying the plants at their freshest produces the highest quality pods and ensures optimal harvest timing. Additionally, the drying facility grants the ability to transport the pods ready for distillation in a cost effective and profitable manner for the small farmers.