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[:RU]How to Grow Organic cocoa in Brazil[:]

[:RU]I want to begin my story with a couple of simple questions: Do you love chocolate? What role is played in your life chocolate and all the products associated with it?

For instance, I definitely can not imagine my life without chocolate! It’s the product that makes my life sweeter and more pleasant, as banal as it may sound. You could even say that chocolate is a legal form of the 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 know how to grow cocoa? What are the difficulties associated this work? That’s 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 exactly the same as the cocoa grown a hundred years ago. Without using any chemicals. Absolutely subsistence farming.

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On his hacienda we invited Brazilian friend Jose Carlos. At the moment he is the owner of three hacienda on production of cocoa beans. We will visit the smallest of them — about 120 hectares of land. It is also the closest to the city of Ilheus. The other two hacienda dimensions of 250 and 280 hectares. By the way, in the past, in the possession of José Carlos was already 8 hacienda organic cocoa. The man he was deeply fascinated by the case. I even think that of cocoa he can talk endlessly:)

Organic farming, though quite fashionable phenomenon today, but nevertheless — it is very rare. After sticking to this policy has to put up with very large losses in yield. In comparison with other non-organic hacienda, is removed only 30% of the crop! Just imagine what a loss! That price is really unique product. 70% of fetuses die for many reasons, including various diseases and pests.

This year has been very dry for the state of Bahia. For the past three months, there is practically no rain. Many cocoa trees on the hacienda were killed. As long as we’re going along the hacienda, we see dozens of dead trees. The spectacle is very sad. But Jose Carlos does not seem discouraged. Against nature not trample. And his life was enough ups and downs to everything philosophically. It is extremely interesting man with a great life experience. How is it in your life just do not do it! Even cocoa — this is not the first culture that nurtures Jose Carlos.

One time he even engaged in the cultivation of chili peppers! In his house, he gave it to us to try. I can say that the pepper seared us to the very depths of my soul :)and left the most intense memories in our stomachs trained Chinese cuisine. Bahia — this is probably the only state in Brazil where the kitchen there is chili. But, unfortunately, as a business, it’s not the most promising area.

But back to the hacienda and drought. In the ensuing drought has only one advantage. The water is gone and there is a possibility to prepare the site for future reservoir on the territory of the hacienda. Now comes its active preparation. Poured concrete small dam, paved by her pipe deepened bottom. When the rains flood the low-lying, so the dry season — the only time when you can make all this work. And at the moment the future of the reservoir is a just a small puddle of water. But as you know, there is no eternal drought. At the time, everything is reborn and water return. But the next dry year hacienda is already fully prepared.

Because of the drought, many trees are now sick. Unfortunately, drought — is not the only problem. There are many diseases of cocoa, including disease and artificially introduced by here — Vassoura-de-bruxa.

It’s quite a tragic story that touched the entire region. This disease has destroyed not only a lot of cocoa trees and human lives, but also completely undermined the economic prosperity of the region. I am not going to paint who is to blame and what version of what happened there, it is a separate topic bulk too. What is important is that the region is still not fully got to his feet. The history of the disease dark. It began in 1989. A man (or group of people) maliciously infected by a fungus had introduced here Moniliophtora perniciosa branches of cocoa. These infected branches with ropes tying it to a healthy tree. Later, even he had traced the path that was done infecting trees in the region. Obviously, the man was driving along the entire region, stopping approximately every 100 kilometers to tie infested branches to new healthy cocoa trees, thus covering the largest territory.

Up to this point in the disease state of Bahia cocoa existed. For about three years, the infection has destroyed most of the plantations here. The only way to fight it — burn diseased trees. Over a relatively short period of time developed into a rich prosperous area in the beggar. It is still not developed effective vaccines against the disease and still Edinstennoe method of struggle — burn infected trees.

A lot of people lost their jobs and livelihoods. Fazenda cocoa ruined and land depreciated. In the past, thriving cocoa hacienda could be bought for next to nothing. To feed their families the owners of the land had to cut down their land for timber. The region immediately increased crime rates, increased areas of the favelas. Brazil as a whole, has greatly reduced the volume of exports of cocoa and lost a huge chunk of the global cocoa market, which quickly occupied the other countries. Such tragic consequences. And until now, no one knows what is it that causes a person pushed to such a terrible thing. Also, so far no one brought to justice.

If someone is highly interested in this topic — here documentary film about those events. But he is in Portuguese.

Now, how exactly it is grown cocoa, which are necessary conditions and how to construct the hacienda.

For a start, I show the house hacienda administrator, who met us and showed everything.

The gate at the entrance:

And those same dogs that frighten gate. Like most dogs in Brazil, local flea sacks absolutely phlegmatic.

Wife administrator botanist by profession, therefore in the house and the area around the house is planted a lot of interesting plants and trees

Meanwhile, we are advancing into the forest to look like trees grow cocoa.

Cocoa — the culture is quite capricious in growing conditions. Cocoa needs a warm, humid climate. It needs a rich, well-drained soil. 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 an average temperature of 25-28 ° C. In the state of Bahia is just the perfect combination of all these conditions.

One interesting fact. When you travel through Brazil, you can accurately define and say that this is a coffee plantation or plantation of bananas here. But, passing by plantations of cocoa, only an experienced person will identify and say that this is it.

The thing is that cocoa is grown in the forest, in the shade of other trees. For the full cocoa growing need high a spreading trees, which give a good shadow. That is why the plantation look like a normal forest or jungle. Here you see the slender rows of trees and clean of weeds plots.

Frequent neighbors for cacao trees are here: banana palm, jackfruit tree pau-Brasil and others.

Pau Brasil

Wood cupuaçu

Banana trees adjacent to Cocoa

There are two fundamentally different ways of cultivation of cocoa and updates. Cocoa can be grown from seed. This process takes a minimum of 5 years before the first harvests. A full crop from such a tree can be obtained already from 8 — 10 th year. Fruiting trees, on average, 30 — 80 years, but there are trees older than 100 years.

The second method works well for the old plantations — a rejuvenation of aged trees. Cacao trees that give poor harvests cut down, leaving a stump with young sprouts. Stump size somewhere 30-50 cm. Within 3 years of the germs grow an updated tree. This method saves the 2 years prior to the first full crop.

Cultivated cocoa trees are not high — a maximum of 6-8 meters. Their specially pruned so that they can hide in the shade of other trees, and the harvest is more convenient.

The cocoa tree is peculiar cauliflory — when the fetus develops itself on tree trunks. This quality is inherent in many large trees with heavy fruit, such as jackfruit, durian, breadfruit, and the next of kin of cocoa — cupuaçu.

There are many varieties of cocoa. Jose Carlos himself could not say how many varieties of cocoa he grows. For pure varieties almost nobody grows. In the production of the chocolate mixture is always used (blends).

The color of ripe fruit of different varieties of cocoa can vary from green and yellow to rich shades of red. Ripe fruit can reach the size of 30-35 cm and a weight of 500 grams. Inside the fruit develops 20-50 seeds — cocoa beans.

It is believed that the cocoa tree gives two crops a year. Under favorable conditions, the tree blossoms and bears fruit all year round. In Jose Carlos within the same hacienda works are in any case all year. Clear framework no harvest, but about once a week or two workers bypass the territory. Somewhere you need to collect the ripe fruit, somewhere to make sanitary trimming trees. Be sure that the trees are not sick. If a tree fell ill — to take timely action.

Here the fruit on which bothered woodpecker. Against these pests, too, there is no protection.

Young tree killed by drought

Diseased fruits

This fruit damaged by mice

Currently working on the hacienda 8 permanent workers. But, if necessary, temporary work hired more people.

These knives — Machete — is an integral feature of the employee’s cocoa plantations. In Brazil, even saying that you can not meddle with the «Baiano, Campania» (ie, a resident of the State of Bahia) — it is very dangerous to life. All local residents have machetes and very hot-tempered.

Almost all the work is carried out on the cacao hacienda such knives. With machetes trimmed trees harvested, they also chopped thick crust fruit to extract the seeds.

Production of cocoa — without waste. Everything goes in motion. Even thick peel the fruit collected. Of them make excellent natural fertilizer. After the seeds are removed, the crust is collected in large heaps are:

And we, meanwhile, walk up on the plantation and go see what is in the buildings on the hacienda.

Valorous guards swaggered obhayala us from head to toe

A very important part of any hacienda with the production of cocoa is such here launches:

Barkas — a structure that has a roofed wooden floor and a roof, put on the rails. Use of drying the cocoa beans. What it looks like I’ll show you a little further.

In sunny weather, the roof slides down and the beans are dried in the sun. In cloudy weather, the roof put in place, and it protects the beans from the rain.

Two barge

The administrative building and houses permanent workers

Finally, we come to the very important process. Harvested ripe fruit cocoa are cut with a knife into pieces with machetes. Extracted from the fruit pulp with white cocoa beans inside. The beans are separated from the pulp, are placed in a large wooden pallets and covered with banana leaves.

So begins the most interesting and most important part of the production of cocoa — the process of fermentation. It is due to fermentation of the cocoa gets its unique taste and aroma.

Raw raw cocoa beans are bad, very bitter and astringent taste. In their high content of tannins. Under the influence of temperature, its own enzymes and natural yeast, cocoa beans begin to roam — this is fermentation. The whole process takes 7-10 days.

Then the cocoa beans must be dried. To see how they are dried, we return to the longboat. Now we have to open one of them.

This is it, «brown gold» of the highest quality!

Speaking of quality. On the hacienda produce cocoa beans two varieties. Here are just dried cocoa first grade.

During drying the beans to lose more than half of its weight.

Then just have to pack only cocoa beans into bags and sent to customers, some of whom are very well-known names such as: Nestle and Lindt.

Cocoa beans first grade

Cocoa beans are the second grade


Here it is, the final product coming from the hacienda — cocoa beans first grade.

And the results of the works:

Quality of packing bags also depends on the sort of cocoa beans. First grade is packaged so that the beans could breathe freely and pour inside the bag. Class II just keeps tight wad so that the individual beans do not even detectable.

Left in bags — first grade, to the right — the second grade

And here’s another little secret: Nestle company for its chocolate cocoa orders second grade. But cocoa Lindt takes only the first grade. But, in fact, the taste of chocolate these companies it is quite possible to guess.

All subsequent conversion processes cocoa beans have come directly from the customer. These processes include: roasting, removing the husk (it can be clearly seen in the photo above) and peremolku cocoa beans. The products obtained in the processing of cocoa beans, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, cocoa shell (husk).

And we walk up through the forest and looking at all the production processes, heading back to the house hacienda administrator. Here we were treated to chilled coconut water and try to give canned Palmito.

I have said that Jose Carlos — a fairly adventurous little man. On the hacienda allocated a small plot for growing Palmito. This edible soft core of one species of local trees. The most important point in harvested Palmito — to choose the right time for harvesting when the core is still relatively young and soft. Then it cleaned and conserved, and in canned form is widely used in local cuisine.

On the hacienda Palmito only grown, and then sell the manufacturer of canned, and which we were treated. I had never liked the taste of this plant, but this is the preservation of me, surprisingly, I liked.

As we tuck into Palmito, Jose Carlos entertained us with their bookkeeping :)whole life hacienda recorded in this large notebook. The tables and figures are read fruitful and lean years, rain and drought, the number of working and non-working weeks, and, of course, the number of grown cocoa.

«I try to translate it all into electronic form — laughing, Jose Carlos. — I even hired for that special person in the office. But it stalled at the level of controversy as it should look. »

It remains only to give final instructions. And we say goodbye to the hacienda and its inhabitants and touches back.

Escorted us to the impending storm clouds.

A couple of days we asked if passed after all rain after we left? After Ilheus that day was pouring heavily and is only 60 km away from the plantation.
Like it? I need your opinion about what I do and what I write. Your comment — best estimate of my work. Let’s talk more!
Author: Olga Pereko[:]

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