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  • Date: January 31, 2016

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

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I want to start my story with a couple of simple questions: Do you like chocolate? What role does chocolate and all products play in your life?
For example, I definitely can not imagine my life without chocolate! This is the product that makes my life sweeter and more pleasant, however banal it may sound. You could even say that chocolate is such a legal kind of drug. I think many will agree with this definition. We all love chocolate and we all know that chocolate is made from cocoa. But how many people know how to grow cocoa? What difficulties is this work associated with? This is what I want to tell you.
So, today I will show you a report from the hacienda, where they grow organic cocoa. Here it is grown in exactly the same way as cocoa was grown a hundred years ago. Without the use of any chemicals. Absolutely subsistence farming.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Brazilian acquaintance José Carlos invited us to his hacienda.At the moment, he is the owner of three hacienda for the production of cocoa beans. We will visit the smallest of them - about 120 hectares of land. It is the closest to the city of Ilheus. The other two hacienda sizes of 250 and 280 hectares. By the way, in the past, in the possession of Jose Carlos was already 8 hacienda organic cocoa. The man he is deeply involved in this business. It even seems to me that he can talk endlessly about cocoa :)
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Organic farms, although quite a fashionable phenomenon now, but nevertheless - this is a great rarity. After all, to adhere to this policy we have to put up with very large losses in the harvest. In comparison with other non-organic fazends, only 30% of the crop is removed here! Just imagine what a loss! That is the price of a truly unique product. 70% of fruits die for a variety of reasons, including various diseases and pests.
This year was very dry for the state of Bahia. For almost three months there has been almost no rain. A lot of cocoa trees in the hacienda died. While we are driving along the hacienda, we see dozens of dried trees. The sight is very sad. But Jose Carlos does not seem discouraged.Against nature you will not trample. Yes, and in his life there were already enough ups and downs to relate to everything philosophically. This is a terribly interesting person with a huge life experience. What he in his life just did not do! Even cocoa is not the first culture that Jose Carlos cultivates.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

At one time he even engaged in the cultivation of chili peppers! In his house, he gave us a try. I can say that this pepper scorched us to the very depths of the soul :) And left the most burning memories in our stomachs trained by Chinese cuisine. Bahia is probably the only state in Brazil where there is chili pepper in the kitchen. But, unfortunately, as a business, this is not the most promising direction.
But back to the hacienda and drought. In the drought there is only one plus. The water is gone and there is an opportunity to prepare a place for the future reservoir in the hacienda area. Now he is actively training. We poured concrete in a small dam, laid pipes under it, deepened the bottom. When it rains, the lowlands will flood, so the dry season is the only time when all this work can be done. And at the moment the future reservoir is just a small puddle of water. But, as you know, there is no eternal drought.In due time, everything here will be revived and the water will return. But the next dry year, the hacienda will be fully armed.
Because of the drought, many trees are sick now. But, unfortunately, drought is far from the only problem. There are many diseases of cocoa, including the disease brought here artificially - Vassoura-de-bruxa.
This is a rather tragic story that touched the entire region. This disease has not only killed many cocoa trees and human lives, but also completely undermined the region’s economic well-being. Now I will not describe who is to blame and what are the versions of what happened, this is a separate, too voluminous topic. It is important that the region has not yet fully recovered. The story of this disease is dark. It began in 1989. A certain person (or a group of people) with malicious intent brought here cocoa branches infected with the fungus Moniliophtora perniciosa. He tied up these infected branches with ropes to healthy tree trunks. Later, the path along which infection of the region’s trees was made was even traced. It is obvious that a person drove by car along the entire region, stopping about every 100 km to tie up infected branches to new healthy cocoa trees, thereby covering the largest area.
Until this point in the state of Bahia, this cocoa disease did not exist. For about three years, the infection was killed by most of the plantations. The only way to fight it is to burn diseased trees. In a relatively short period of time, a rich prosperous region has become a beggar. So far, no effective vaccinations against this disease have been developed and so far the only method of control is to burn infected trees.
A lot of people were left without work and livelihoods. Fazenda cocoa was ruined, and the land depreciated. In the past, flourishing cocoa flourish could be bought for a song. To feed their families, land owners had to cut down their land for timber. The crime rate in the region instantly increased, and the favel districts increased. Brazil as a whole, greatly reduced the volume of cocoa exports and lost a huge chunk on the world cocoa market, which other countries quickly occupied. Such tragic consequences. And until now, no one really knows what the reasons have pushed the person to such a terrible act. Also, so far no one has been brought to justice.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Now about how exactly cocoa is grown, what conditions are needed and how hacienda is arranged.
To begin with, I will show you the house of the hacienda administrator who met us and showed everything.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Gate at the entrance:
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

And the very dogs that scare the gates. Like most dogs in Brazil, local flea huts are completely phlegmatic.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

The administrator's wife is a botanist by profession, so there are a lot of interesting plants and trees planted in the house and on the plot near the house.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

In the meantime, we are pushing into the forest to watch the cocoa trees grow.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Cocoa - a culture quite capricious to the conditions of cultivation. Cocoa needs a warm, humid climate. A rich, well-drained soil is needed. Cocoa does not tolerate direct sunlight, cold and wind. It is grown at an altitude of no more than 750 meters above sea level, in a humid climate - 60-90%, and at an average temperature of 25-28 ° C. The state of Bahia is the perfect combination of all these conditions.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

One interesting fact. When you travel around Brazil, you can accurately determine and say that this is a coffee plantation, or a banana plantation. But, passing by the cocoa plantation, only an experienced person will determine and say that it is she.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

The fact is that cocoa is grown in the forest, in the shade of other trees.For the full cultivation of cocoa you need high razlapisty trees that give a good shade. That is why plantations look like a regular forest or jungle. Here you will not see slender rows of trees and weed-free areas.
Banana palm, jackfruit, Pau-Brazil tree and others are frequent neighbors for cocoa trees.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

There are two fundamentally different ways of growing and renewing cocoa. Cocoa can be grown from seed. This method takes at least 5 years to first harvests. A full harvest from such a tree can be obtained from the 8th - 10th year. Trees bear fruit, on average, 30 - 80 years, but there are trees older than 100 years.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

The second method works well for old plantations - it is the rejuvenation of old trees. Cocoa trees that produce bad yields are cut down, leaving stumps with young shoots. The stump is about 30-50 cm in size. For 3 years, an updated tree grows from sprouts. This method saves 2 years to the first full harvests.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Cultivated cocoa trees are not high - a maximum of 6-8 meters. They are specially pruned so that they can hide in the shade of other trees, and the harvest is more convenient.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Cocoa trees are characterized by caulifloria — when the fruit develops directly on the trunks of the trees.This quality is inherent in many trees with large, weighty fruits, such as jackfruit, durian, breadfruit and the closest relative of cocoa - kupuasu.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

There are many varieties of cocoa. Jose Carlos himself finds it difficult to say how many varieties of cocoa he grows. After all, practically no one grows pure varieties. In the production of the same chocolate mixtures are always used (blends).
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

The color of ripe fruits of different varieties of cocoa can vary from green and yellow to rich shades of red. Ripe fruits can reach sizes up to 30-35 cm and weight up to 500 grams. 20-50 seeds of cocoa beans develop inside the fruit.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

It is believed that the cocoa tree produces two crops per year. Under favorable conditions, the tree blooms and bears fruit year-round. In Jose Carlos within the same hacienda works are conducted in any case all year round. There is no clear framework for harvesting, but about once every one or two weeks workers bypass the territory. Somewhere you need to collect ripe fruit, somewhere to make sanitary pruning of trees. You need to make sure that the trees do not hurt. If a tree is sick, take timely action.
Here is the fruit over which the woodpecker labored.Against these pests, too, there is no protection.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

A young tree died from drought.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Sick fruits.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

This fetus has suffered from mice.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

At the moment, 8 full-time workers are working on the faience But, if necessary, more people are hired for temporary jobs.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Such machete knives are an integral feature of the cocoa plantation worker. In Brazil, they even say that it’s impossible to start a quarrel with “bayan” (ie, a resident of the state of Bahia) - this is very dangerous for life. All locals have machetes and are very hot-tempered.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Almost all the work on the hacienda cocoa is done by such knives. With the help of a machete, trees are pruned, the crop is harvested, and a thick crust of fruits is cut by them to get seeds.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Cocoa production is waste-free. Everything goes into circulation. Even thick fruit crusts are collected. They make excellent natural fertilizer. After the seeds have been extracted from them, the crusts are collected in such large piles:
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

And we, in the meantime, walked around the plantation and go to see what is in the buildings on the hacienda.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Valorous guard with an important view cheated us from head to toe.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

A very important part of any hacienda with cocoa production are such barges:
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

The longboat is a structure that has a laid wooden floor and a roof set on rails.Use them for drying cocoa beans. How it looks, I'll show you a little further.
In sunny weather, the roof pulls out and the beans are dried in the sun. In cloudy weather, the roof is put in place and it protects the beans from the rain.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Finally, we have reached the most important process. Collected ripe cocoa fruits are cut with a machete knife into pieces. White pulp with cocoa beans inside is extracted from fruits. The beans are separated from the pulp, placed in large wooden pallets and covered with banana leaves.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

So begins the most interesting and most important part of cocoa production - the fermentation process. It is thanks to the fermentation of cocoa gets its unique taste and aroma.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Raw, unprocessed cocoa beans have an unpleasant, very bitter and astringent taste. They have a high content of tannins. Under the influence of temperature, its own enzymes and natural yeast, cocoa beans begin to ferment - this is fermentation. The whole process takes 7-10 days.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Then the cocoa beans need to be dried. To see how they are dried, we return to the longboats. Now for us will open one of them.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

This is it, the highest quality brown gold!
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Speaking of quality.On the hacienda produce cocoa beans of two varieties. Here cocoa of the first grade is just dried.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

During drying, the beans lose more than half their weight.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Then it remains only to pack the cocoa beans in bags and send them to customers, among which there are very well-known names.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Cocoa beans of the first grade.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Cocoa beans of the second grade.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Libra.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

Here it is, the end product coming from the hacienda - cocoa beans of the first grade.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

And the results of the works:
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

The quality of packaging in bags also depends on the type of cocoa beans. The first grade is packaged so that the beans can breathe and pour freely inside the bag. Class II simply fits into a tight lump so that individual beans cannot even be felt.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

And here's another small secret: the Nestle company orders cocoa beans of the second grade for their chocolate. But Lindt takes cocoa exclusively of the first grade. But, in fact, to taste the chocolate of these companies, you can quite guess.
All subsequent cocoa bean processing takes place directly at the customer. These processes include roasting, peeling (it can be clearly seen in the photo above) and grinding of cocoa beans. Products obtained in the processing of cocoa beans: cocoa butter, cocoa powder, cocoa-husk (husk).
And we, having walked through the forest and having looked at all the production processes, we return back to the house of the administrator of the hacienda. Here we are treated to chilled coconut water and given to try canned palmita.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

I have already said that Jose Carlos is a rather enterprising little man. In the hacienda a small area has been allocated for growing to the palmita. It is the edible soft core of one species of local palm. The most important moment in preparing palmit is to choose the right moment for cutting, when the core is still quite young and soft. Then it is cleaned and preserved, and already in canned form is widely used in local cuisine.
At the hacienda, palmita is only grown, and then it is sold to the canner manufacturer, which we are treated to. Previously, I never liked the taste of this plant, but it was this preservation that I surprisingly liked.
While we are eating palmita, José Carlos entertains us with his bookkeeping :) The whole life of a hacienda is recorded in this large notebook. In these tables and figures are read fruitful and lean years, rain and drought, the number of working and non-working weeks, and, of course, the amount of cocoa grown.
How to grow organic cocoa in Brazil

“I'm trying to translate this into an electronic form,” laughs Jose Carlos.- I even hired for this special person in the office. But the matter has stalled at the level of disputes, how it should look. ”
It remains only to give the last order. And we say goodbye to the fazenda and its inhabitants and move back.

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