As organic cocoa grown in Brazil
• How organic cocoa is grown in Brazil
I want to begin my story with a couple of simple questions: Do you like chocolate? What is the role of chocolate and all the products associated with it in your life?
For instance, I definitely can not imagine my life without chocolate! This is 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 would 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 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 in exactly the same way as cocoa grown a hundred years ago. Without the use of any chemicals. Absolutely subsistence farming.
On his hacienda we invited a Brazilian friend of Jose Carlos. At the moment he is the owner of the hacienda for the production of three cocoa beans. We will visit the smallest of them - about 120 hectares of land. It is closest to the city of Ilheus. Other hacienda two dimensions 250 and 280 hectares. By the way, in the past, in possession of José Carlos was already 8 Fazenda 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 today the phenomenon, but nonetheless - it is very rare. After all, to adhere to this policy must cope with very large losses in yield. In comparison with other non-organic hacienda, is removed only 30% of the crop! Just imagine what the loss! Such is the price of a truly unique product. 70% of fetuses die for many reasons, including, the various diseases and pests.
This year has been very dry for the state of Bahia. For the past three months, almost no rain. A lot of 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. This is terribly interesting man with a great life experience. What was he was not engaged in your life! Even cocoa - it is not the first culture that nurtures Jose Carlos.
One time he even engaged in the cultivation of chili! In his house, he gave it to us to try. I can say that the pepper seared us to the very depths of the soul :) And left the most intense memories in our stomachs trained Chinese cuisine. Bahia - this is perhaps the only state in Brazil, where there is the kitchen chilli. 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 plus. The water is gone and it is possible to prepare a place for the future reservoir on the territory of the hacienda. Now comes its active preparation. Small poured concrete dam, pipes laid under it, deepened bottom. When the rains flood the low-lying, so the dry season - the only time when you can spend all this work. A currently future reservoir is a only a small pool of water. But as you know, eternal drought does not happen. At the time, everything is reborn and water return. But the next dry year hacienda is already fully prepared.
Many trees are now sick because of the drought. But, unfortunately, a drought - is not the only problem. There are lots of cocoa diseases, including and the disease of introduced here artificially - Vassoura-de-bruxa.
It's a pretty tragic story that touched the entire region. This disease has destroyed not only many trees, cocoa 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 are the versions of what happened, this is a separate topic bulk too. It is important that the region is still not fully got to his feet. The history of this disease dark. It began in 1989. A person (or group) has delivered maliciously infected by a fungus here Moniliophtora perniciosa branches of cocoa. These infected branches with ropes tying it to the healthy tree trunks. Later even been traced path that infected trees in the region was made. Obviously, the man was driving along the region, stopping approximately every 100 km to tie infested branches to the new healthy cocoa trees, thus covering the largest territory. Up to this point in the state of Bahia cocoa this disease does not exist. 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 a rich prosperous region turned into a beggar. It is still not developed effective immunization against the disease and still Edinstennoe method of struggle - burn infected trees.
A lot of people lost their jobs and livelihoods. Cacao hacienda ruined and the land depreciated. In the past, prosperous hacienda of cocoa could be bought for a song. To feed their families the land owners had to cut down their plots of timber. The region immediately increased the level of crime, areas of the favelas grew. 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 by other countries. Such tragic consequences. And until now, no one really knows what is it that causes a person pushed to such a terrible thing. Also, so far no one brought to justice.
Now, how exactly is grown cocoa, which are necessary conditions and how to construct the hacienda.
To begin, show hacienda administrator's house, who met us and showed everything.
Gate at the entrance:
And those same dogs that frighten gate. Like most dogs in Brazil, local flea sacks absolutely phlegmatic.
Administrator wife botanist by profession, so in the home and in the area around the house is planted so many interesting plants and trees.
Meanwhile, we are advancing into the forest to look, how to grow cocoa trees.
Cocoa - the culture is quite capricious in cultivation conditions. Cocoa needs a warm moist climate. It requires 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 pinpoint and say that this is a coffee plantation, or a plantation of bananas here. But, passing by plantations of cocoa, only an experienced person will determine and tell you that this is it.
The thing is that cocoa is grown in the forest, in the shade of other trees. For high-grade cocoa growing need high a spreading trees, which give good shade. That is why the plantations look like a normal forest or jungle. Here you will not see the slender ranks of the trees and clean of weeds plots.
Frequent neighboring cocoa trees here are: banana tree, jackfruit tree pau-brasil and others.
There are two fundamentally different ways of growing cocoa and updates. Cocoa can be grown from the seed. This method takes a minimum of 5 years before the first harvest. Full harvest from such a tree can be obtained already from 8 - 10 th year. Fruit trees, on average, 30 - 80 years old, but there are trees older than 100 years.
The second method works well for the old plantations - a rejuvenation of aged trees. Cocoa trees, which 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 harvest.
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.
cacao tree peculiar cauliflory - when the fruits are developing directly on the trunks of trees. This quality is inherent in many large trees with weighty 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 cocoa varieties he grows. After all, pure varieties almost nobody grows. In the production of the chocolate mixture are always used (blends).
The color of the ripe fruit of different varieties of cocoa can vary from green and yellow to rich shades of red. Ripe fruit size can reach up to 30-35 cm and a weight of 500 grams. Inside the fetus develops 20-50 seeds - cocoa beans.
It is believed that the cacao tree gives two crops a year. Under favorable conditions, the tree blooms and bears fruit all year round. In Jose Carlos within a hacienda work is carried out in any case, all year round. Clear framework for the harvest there, but about once every week or two workers bypass the territory. Somewhere you need to collect the ripe fruit, somewhere to make sanitary trimming trees. Care must be taken to not hurt the trees. If a tree fell ill - take timely action.
Here fruit, over which bothered woodpecker. Against these pests, too, there is no protection.
young tree killed by drought.
This fruit is affected by the mice.
At the moment the hacienda are 8 permanent workers. But, if necessary, more people are hired for temporary work.
Such knives - machete - is an integral feature of the employee's cocoa plantations. In Brazil, even saying that you can not meddle with "bayano" (ie, a resident of the State of Bahia..) - it is very dangerous to life. All the locals have a machete and a very hot-tempered.
Almost all of the work on the cacao hacienda made such knives. With machetes trimmed trees, harvest, they also chopped thick crust fruit to extract the seeds.
cocoa - without waste. Everything goes in motion. Even thick peel the fruit collected. Of them make excellent natural fertilizer. Once the seeds are removed, the crust is collected in such large piles:
And we, meanwhile, walk up on the plantation, and we go to see what is in the buildings on the hacienda.
Valiant guards swaggered obhayat us from head to toe.
A very important part of any hacienda of cocoa production are such here launches:
Barkas - a structure that has a roofed wooden floor and a roof, I put on the rails. Their use for drying of cocoa beans. How 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.
Finally, we come to the very important process. Harvested ripe cocoa fruits 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 the most important part of the production of cocoa - the fermentation process. It is due to fermentation of the cocoa gets its unique taste and aroma.
The raw unprocessed 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 the fermentation. The whole process takes 7-10 days.
Then the cocoa beans have to be dried. To see how they are dried, we return to the longboat. Now open one of them for us.
This is it, "brown gold" of the highest quality!
By the way, about the quality. On hacienda produce cocoa beans of two types. Here are just dried cocoa first grade.
During the drying of the beans lose more than half its weight.
Further, there is only just to pack cocoa beans into bags and sent to customers, some of whom are very well-known names.
The cocoa beans are first class.
Cocoa beans inferior.
That is it, the final product coming from the hacienda - cocoa beans first grade.
And the results of the works:
The quality of packaging in bags, too, depends on the type of cocoa beans. First grade is packaged so that the beans could breathe freely interspersed within the bag. Class II just fits tight wad so that some beans are not even detectable.
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 this chocolate of these companies can be quite guess.
All subsequent processes cocoa beans processing already occur directly at the customer. These processes include: frying, removing husks (it can be clearly seen on 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 woods 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 already said that Jose Carlos - rather enterprising little man. On the hacienda allocated a small plot for growing Palmito. It is suitable to eat 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. Next 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 food, which we were and treated. I had never liked the taste of this plant, but this is the preservation of me, surprisingly, I liked.
As long as we tuck into Palmito, Jose Carlos entertains us with its accounting :) All life hacienda written in this big 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, - laughs Jose Carlos -. I even hired for that special person in the office, but the case stalled at the level of debate, as it should look like.."
It remains only to give final instructions. And we say goodbye to the hacienda and its inhabitants and touches back.