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The Life of a Cacao Farmer

Cacao Farmer

As a home-grown British chocolate manufacturing business, we are immensely proud of the relationships we have garnered over the years, ensuring we continue to supply you with delicious and ethically made chocolate.

We work closely with our supplier Luker Chocolate who have been an inspiration to us in how to do business in a better way and we share many of their values – a chocolate which is free from palm oil, whilst being sustainably and responsibly grown ensuring a world for future generations.

From time to time, you’ve asked us if we can share anything with you about the people behind our chocolate – so we thought we’d go all the way back to the beginning of the growing of the cacao by our farmers, in their stunningly diverse country of Colombia. Linda’s had the privilege of visiting these farmers seeing first-hand all they do in looking after this incredibly precious crop. 

We’d like you to meet Aldemar Guzman, one of the farmers who with his family have been tending cocoa for many years.

Aldemar was inspired to become a cacao farmer over 15 years ago when he first stepped onto cocoa farming land. He liked the plot, the weather was wonderful, the land rich and fertile and the 10 hectares was only 20 minutes by bike from his home in Rivera, Huila – a region in the southwest of Colombia, nestled on the flank of the Andes near the Nevado del Huila volcano, the second highest peak in Colombia. Lying relatively close to the equator and steeped in farming tradition, Huila’s rich volcanic soils and climate create optimum growing conditions for many crops including sugar cane, coffee, bananas, and of course exquisitely tasting cocoa.

Joining Luker Chocolate as a cacao farmer meant he could put everything his learnt from his grandfather to the test and over 15 years later, Aldemar still enjoys farming sustainable cocoa and loves nothing more than caring and nurturing his thriving cacao trees.

Aldemar says “I was able to study thanks to cacao. The beautiful house that I have is thanks to cacao and cacao has also given me my friends. Everything I’ve learned and everything I’ve known I owe to cacao.”

With previous generations of Aldemar’s family being from cacao farming communities, it was Aldemar’s dream to continue his family tradition. He finished primary and high school education before going onto study Agricultural Technology and Public Administration with his dream of joining the cacao farming community coming to fruition in the mid-2000s.

Aldemar continues “My land is called La Bonanza (The Prosperity) because I sow all the seeds that I possible can. I own 10 hectares, out of which I plant right with cacao and the rest with araza, lemon, orange, coconut, tangerine, sapote, avocado and pineapple. I go there and I sow. If something sprouts, that is fine, if not, I sow once again to see what happens.”

Nine years ago, Aldemar visited La Ganja Luker, where he received additional training in innovative farming techniques. “It was a really great experience” says Aldemar, “I would like to go back to see how much has changed and see what new things I can learn.”

La Granja Luker was founded in 1962 as a research and training centre, enhancing cacao farmers knowledge and skills in modern agricultural practices so that they can increase productivity, generating a higher income which in turn improves their quality of life. The team at Granja Luker are constantly working on a number of projects including adaptative research, exploring high productivity with disease resistance plants, the training of farmers on cocoa harvest and production techniques all around the country and also the production of cocoa seedlings. It is at Granja Luker the piece of research on the effects of music on the growth and flavours of cocoa is being monitored and investigated. Nearly 33,000 farmers have been trained through Granja Luker over the years and it maintains close relationships with the farmers’ associations. Furthermore, small producers, like Aldemar are offered plant material at La Granja Luke with a financial subsidy on their purchases for new projects or for replanting. This allows the farmers to update their crops with fine aroma, high quality and high productivity cacao varieties at a subsidised cost whilst also giving the farmers access to technical support from the team of Luker Chocolate agronomists who travel around all of the cocoa growing communities.

Aldemar ends “Cacao is a very grateful crop: if you take care of it, it always pays back. I use to run around all the time, but time is a great teacher. Now I am calmer, I like to make jokes, just like a guipa which is how we call children around here. I used to be stressed; now I make fun of stress.”

Now you’ve seen life from Aldemar’s perspective, you might be interested in exploring our stunning array of single origin bars which come from cocoa farmers across South America.

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