Location: Rio Claro, Trinidad
Tasting Notes: Berry pie, complex, earthy
Farmers in Network: 50
Fermentation: 6 days with turns every 2 days
Drying style: Alternate sun drying with a greenhouse-style solar drying house
Harvest Season: November - May
Rio Claro House of Cocoa is a central fermentary owned and operated by a young farmer named Gewan Gangaram. Gewan grew up with cocoa—his family’s estate was bought in 1982. At the time, this was a huge investment for the family, but his parents saw the potential in the land; the cocoa trees were flourishing with beautiful cocoa pods from ICS varieties, together with banana and lumber trees.
In the early years of work on the estate, beans were fermented in bags and sun dried and polished in a traditional cocoa drying house. They would later be bagged and sold to one of very few existing buying agents. Unfortunately, like many beans coming from Trinidad, the small producers who contributed to these larger exports and subsequent chocolate formulations remained practically invisible. As Gewan got older he sought to carve out his own niche, and bring added value and recognition of his efforts. After crossing paths with one of the country’s long-standing and wellrespected cocoa agronomists, Mr. Kamaldeo Maharaj, Gewan came to understand the impact of better agronomic and post-harvest practices on securing better yields and prices. He threw himself into a flurry of research to be able to implement various best practices. His first round of sales of wet beans at a higher price gave him the incentive he needed. It fueled his pride in what he did, and this allowed him in turn to keep selecting the best and doing everything according to best practices.
As the demand for high quality beans increased, he was encouraged to purchase from neighboring farms at a higher price per kilo, and then process the beans himself. Together with the help of his area’s expert cocoa field officer, Roger Poliah, he was able to target farmers with prime material. Many farmers responded quite well because they were now seeing more money for their harvest—money that was surely helping to improve their standard of living.
Gewan is now in the process of installing infrastructure to increase his production, minimize labour cost and maintain his level of consistency.