Last week, I had a chance to take my family to visit a cacao farm, which is grown among other trees in Nan province, a lovely province that everyone must visit. Here, we saw the cacao plantation and got to know the cacao farmers whom we have followed their works for many years. Elder "A" is a farmer who has been willing to help other farmers to live a better life. He has fought to support the cacao trees in Chumporn province and help spread the seeds to other parts of Thailand. He likes to share his knowledge with other farmers about growing cacao without the slightest hesitation. He doesn’t care much about profits as other businessmen who only seek for the money out of those trees.
"I also doesn’t sell the young cacao trees for money, instead I want to make sure that these little trees would survive in other parts of the country. When the plants are 2-3 years old, they give their first offspring which is worth a lot for the farmers." - said Elder "A".
Although he normally gets paid the same, the cacao beans of those farmers are sold with high prices in order to ensure that the farmers are not going to regret about growing these trees.
Elder "A" and his friends, P’Kean and P’Vinai, the spouses, who care wholeheartedly about the environment, have strived to give back to the forest where they have grown up with.
He grew all of his young cacao trees from the 40-year-old mother tree in Chumporn. Yet, he decided to not cultivate from its offspring, since he planned to grow the best cacao trees.
"Therefore, those young cacao trees are purely inherited from the mother tree will fast grown, productive, and tolerant to the sickness, thereby, yielding high quality cacao pods."
When it comes to talk about cacao from Thailand, "A" is the person you want to go to. Though he doesn’t earn much profit by doing this, he has helped many farmers to stand up for their plants and to not switch plants from one to another based on the harvesting prices. He truly does it from the heart.
We had a chance to stay with P’Kean and P’Vinai for three days. Here, they cooked sustainably from their homegrown vegetables, chickens, eggs, and fishes. They were so kind to us. We exchange perspectives with them, we can now relate back to our question in "Thailand Chocolate Journey Part 1".
"why doesn’t cacao from Thailand become recognized?, given that it has originated in Thailand for 50-60 years ago !!
The reason behind this is that Thai farmers oftentimes switched their plants based on the selling prices. In those days, cacao was sold only 3-4 baht per kilogram, whereas rubber was priced at 70-100 baht per kilogram. Eventually, they cut down the cacao trees and instead, grew the rubber trees. When the rubber price was low, they again cut down the rubber trees and replaced them with the palm trees. They choose the plants to grow based on the economy and government support. Now, when all prices are declined, cacao seems to have a better chance to become popular. Most of the farmers didn’t care much about where the plants originated from. Many years ago there is a chocolate factory was built in the southern part of Thailand; it was corrupted by the local people, thereby, being forced to shut down. Those farmers had nowhere to sell their harvests and It was also too expensive to invest to build their own factories in the communities.
Still, cacao from Thailand is considered very good quality. We can grow healthy cacao in our rich ground. However, if the foundation of trees is not nourishing, there is no way that their offspring will be fruitful. The reason why Elder "A" has been fighting all his life is to educate the farmers to not easily grow trees from any unknown sources. But for those farmers, It is not worth waiting for two or more years just to harvest low quality cacao beans which can potentially end up being bought at low prices. Before planting the cacao tree or any other plants, we all must study more about our plants as well as understand the requirements along with their nature in order to grow them appropriately, so they can yield nice pods.
Next, we will tell you more about the proper methods of cacao cultivation.
"Thailand Chocolate Journey Part 2" - Truth about Thai Cacao