In the northern area of Manabi, one of the best grains in the world is sown, cultivated and harvested; this month it will start the production of his own chocolate. The modesty of Bertho Zambrano and the farmers of “Cantón Bolívar”, in the northeast of Manabí, have no limits.
These manabita farmers, whose specialty is cocoa crops, preferred to maintain a low profile in the dissemination of the award received by their group ‘Fortaleza del Valle’ in Paris on 30 October.
The fine aroma cocoa of the farmers of the Calceta area of the Bolívar canton was recognized as one of the best in the world. It happened in Paris, France. Within the framework of the 2017 International Cacao Prize. The sample of the group ‘Fortaleza del Valle’ received recognition for its high quality.
Among 50 types of cocoa in the world the fruit from manabi was chosen. “We knew it was news that would strike between the farmers of the province and the country, but we prefer to wait until November 7.” It was the ceremony where we celebrated 12 years as ‘Fortaleza del Valle’, there we announced our achievement, said Zambrano.
To reach the end of the selection process, two samples were sent to Anecacao in Guayaquil. They sent them to France. Both were rated among the 50 finalists and one won the award for excellence, recalled Bertho.
The award is the result of a work process for 12 years. It all began with the formation of the association, this allowed him to receive support in training and to improve the technology, which in turn led to good results of the final product.
In a laboratory they analyze the samples of the product that is harvested in the 2,200 hectares located in the Bolívar, Chone, Junín, Tosagua and Portoviejo cantons. The 1,000 producers of ‘Fortaleza del Valle’ are smallholders, own plantations of between one and 15 hectares, that makes the care of each plantation task manageable, the final product is taken to a collection center located in Calceta, assured Zambrano
In Bolívar, 70% of Manabi cocoa is produced. Eumeny Álava is one of the farmers and artisans of the area. In Bolívar everything smells like cocoa, from a very young one it is related to the golden cob, he said.
“I believe that the work and dedication that we put to cocoa has given us results, that’s where the prize is, that drives us to continue with more strength and taking care of the plantations,” he said.
But, in addition, what are the benefits of the award? This time, according to Don Bertho, as they know Zambrano in the region, the recognition will have an impact on the price of the ton which before the prize was sold at $ 3,300 and now increased to $ 3,700.
The members of ‘Fortaleza del Valle’ produce 600 tons per year of fine aroma cocoa. 70% of the product is sold to Switzerland and the remaining 30% is sold to the Czech Republic, Italy and the United States.
By mid-December, ‘Fortaleza del Valle’ plans to begin the production of chocolate bars. He has installed a plant in Calceta with a loan of $ 300,000 that he received from a Dutch entity. From the cob the farmers, like Eumeny Álava, make handicrafts that are sold in the 92 fairs held in the 22 cantons of Manabí annually. (I)
The market of the product
- 70% of the fine cocoa of Manabi aroma is exported to several countries of the European Community, also a part is sold to customers in the United States.
- 70 years is the average time of he plantations of fine aroma cacao.
- Nothing is wasted, cobs are used by people who make handicrafts offered to tourists.