Let’s start a nursery

Create new forms of life in an organic way: that’s the goal we set when we put up our fist cacao nursery.

We have ambitious plans for Cambodia when it comes to cacao. We know that the future of cacao looks magnificent; for the next ten years at least. We watch the world markets and the world movements, and then it’s not hard for us to foresee that cacao prices will grow in the next ten years. It never goes in a straight line of course. That’s what we experienced at the beginning of this year when suddenly the world prices dropped more than 10%. But there is already a recovery taking place. These price developments make us confident about the future of cacao in Cambodia. And it gives us the chance to bring prosperity not only to our own company but to share this also with other farmers who are willing to take on the brown gold, as cacao is sometimes called.

Because we want to set up a small chocolate factory within the next three years, we need more farmers to develop cacao. It is in our interest to get far more farmers on board, and for the farmers, it will give a peace of mind if they can get a farming contract which will provide them with a price assurance from year to year.

But to pull it all off, we have to start with a cacao nursery. And this is by far more exciting than we thought in the beginning. We are not just growing 80,000 seedlings at the time with the challenge of cloning the upcoming plant with a branch of a high yield producing mother tree, but we also love experimenting with new varieties. As long as you do this in an organic way, mother nature can give you fantastic surprises.

Thanks to Twitter and other social media we are in contact with farmers and researchers in South America, where the cacao development is even more exciting than in Asia. I am skyping with Aaron Sylvester, who is setting up cacao contract farming in Grenada, twittering with farms in Peru (@maranonchocolate ) and Nicaragua (@cacaofarmdiary ) and Facebooking with cacao scientist Darwin Toapanta in Ecuador who I visited last year. In Asia, we mainly work with the cacao species called Forastero. But with the help of Darwin, we hope to import cacao varieties Nacional, Arriba and CN51, and experiment with cross-overs between the different types. It won’t be that difficult to interbreed with cacao, because – and let me quote here one of the most attention-drawing information about cacao from a French female chocolatier – “cacao is a slut”. As a result, there seem to be around 1,400 subvarieties of the cacao tree. It would be an absolute honor if we could add a new Asian variety to this great family.