This is Kotaro Ezawa, the representative of MAMANO.
From August 31st to September 6th last year, I visited the Alibaba cacao plantation and factory in Ecuador.
Actually,I want to know more about cacao farmers with the momentum to live for a long time!I'm thinking, but I haven't realized it because I'm still busy preparing for shops, manufacturing, and events.
In order to let everyone know more about cacao, I would like to introduce a trip around the cacao plantation that I couldn't introduce on my blog a year ago.
I would be grateful if you could know about Alibaba cacao, about farms, about Amazon. I myself have been looking back at the videos and images for the first time in a long time, and I am looking forward to telling you that there are many things that I have not been able to introduce to you at all!
■ What is MAMANO?
MAMANO is a fair trade chocolate shop specializing in Alibaba cacao. Founded in February 2013. We launched it to realize the smiles of producers through fair trade, the smiles of the earth through Amazon conservation, and the smiles of our customers.
■ History and schedule of visit
I was invited to the aromas del ecuador in Ecuador.
August 31 (Monday) Arrival in Guayaquil, Ecuador
September 1st (Tuesday) Aromas del Ecuador Participation in cacao chocolate matching event
Moved to Tena on Wednesday, September 2nd. Visit farms and unions.
Visited the market and farm on Thursday, September 3rd.
Visited the chocolate factory on Friday, September 4th.
Returned to Japan on September 6 (Sun)
■ Learning at aromas del ecuador
From 9am to 6pm every 30 minutes, I ate chocolates from manufacturers and unions dealing with the Ariva brand in Ecuador. All are Ariva. There are various differences such as differences depending on the production area, chocolate composition, and factory process.
What was particularly surprising was that about half of the "Ariba" had a weak scent.
One reason for this is the presence of seeds that the government has distributed to farmers to spread Ariva. Ariva is a very difficult species to grow because it is extremely vulnerable to environmental changes.
Therefore, the government created seeds that are resistant to environmental changes and distributed them to farmers.
However, the seeds had little fruitiness and gorgeous scent, which are the original goodness of Ariva, so distribution was stopped after a while.
However, if the seeds are mixed, cacao, which still has a weak scent, will be sold as Ariva.
Many of the places that bought cocoa from the market rather than from the farms and unions were of poor quality.
The reason is that the unions with which MAMANO is associated buy cacao beans from farmers at about twice the price. Therefore, I will only get the ones in good condition. (Approximately 40% of all beans do not meet the required level)
The beans that go to the market are grated afterwards, and because they are collected from various parts of Ecuador, they have a mixed flavor, and the beans in the market are not well preserved, so quality deterioration occurs.
For this reason, the brands that are buying from the market were not the highest quality Ariva. The difference in the flavor of Ariva depending on the region of the brand that is firmly connected with farmers and unions and is seriously working on it is very interesting, and I hope that everyone will eat it.
■ Learning at the farm
The chocolate I usually eat is made from cocoa pods like rugby balls, and the fruits taste like lychee. The seeds and fruits are fermented together, dried and finally shipped to the chocolate factory.
In this era when it is difficult to understand what you are eating and where it comes from, we are implementing the ultimate traceability, but you can feel it to the other side of the earth. By doing so, my love for chocolate, my motivation to grow MAMANO, and my passion to convey to customers have increased.
■ What is chakra farming?
It is a cultivation method that is also called agroforestry. The feature is that it is not grown alone in cacao, but is grown in the woods with various fruits, trees and vegetables. Also, no chemical fertilizer is used. This chakra farming method creates a scent in the cacao that cannot be produced by single cultivation.
In terms of risk hedging of daily life, it is important for farmers to continue producing cacao sustainably, because it is possible to obtain products that can be used as a source of livelihood in addition to the cacao harvest season.
■ About farmers
There are about 10 children per family.
During the harvest season, the cocoa is harvested every two weeks on Thursday night and given to the union on Friday morning.
The remaining cacao goes to the market. The climate is warm all year round, not too hot and very comfortable. When there is a festival, we dance down for two days.
Even if I contact you during this time, I can not expect a reply ^ ^ lol
Many Quechua people are very shy.
Maybe it's because they don't have much contact with people outside the Amazon, unlike people in urban areas.
Making money is important, but on the other hand, Amazon is rich in natural fruits and vegetables even if you don't make money.
■ Current status of the fair trade industry and points to note when trying to tackle fair trade in the future
It is doubtful whether the certification system, which costs hundreds of thousands of yen for fair trade certification, is fair trade. I think that there is a merit that sales will increase and be returned to farmers by having certification, but the cost itself of taking the certification system is returned to farmers, and even if there is no certification, it is firmly connected to the local area. Another idea is that if you can tell the consumer about it, you don't need to authenticate.
It is a very rare species of cacao, and the message that it deals with the highest quality cacao of a specific farmer, it is the most delicious, so I want you to be happy to eat it comes first, and in fact, it is fair trade to improve your life. I realized later that I was also contributing, and I think it would be good if the customers thought that it was delicious and that something was good.
■ Future outlook for Ecuadorian cacao
The government is starting to put a lot of effort into it. One of them is that MAMANO was able to go to Ecuador by increasing the number of invitations from one company last year to three this year. Many of the manufacturers I met have been in business for a year or two, and I have the impression that subsidies are quite generous. Ariva is a fascinating cacao, so I think it will spread more around the world. At the same time, low quality Ariva will spread around the world.
Like the old Blue Mountain Coffee, everything that was supposed to be the pinnacle of coffee is sold as Blue Mountain, and it's possible that you won't know what the real thing is.
Therefore, at MAMANO, if we make efforts so that the production areas and farmers can understand the difference firmly, and at the same time consumers can understand the difference, a swing back will occur, and what is the production area? Which union? What kind of farmer? What is the composition of chocolate? I think that such things will definitely appear in the difference in price.
■ The future of Amazon, the future of cacao farmers, the future of MAMANO
Amazon, the world's largest treasure trove of biodiversity, supplies one-third of the earth's oxygen. Ecuador's territory is 2% of the Amazon, but it belongs to the headwaters of the Amazon in Ecuador.
It is a very valuable area and Ecuador is the number one endangered species in the world.
You may not usually feel the precious forest resources and the benefits of the ecosystem, but we are living with the great benefits.
Ecuador is an oil-producing country. Oil is the largest source of income for the country. To that end, policies are underway that could destroy the Amazon.
If cocoa plantations can be earned firmly while protecting forests and protecting the lives of traditional indigenous peoples, the balance between oil development, Amazon conservation, and promotion of cocoa farmers will change little by little. think.
Contribution to improving the standard of living of a farmer is to promote economic development while preserving the traditional lives and communities of indigenous peoples, leading to improved chocolate quality and deforestation at the same time. It is a means to prevent progress, and we believe that it will benefit people all over the world by helping to protect the global environment and ecosystems 100 years from now.
Also, cacao is a food with a small price difference.
Originally, the difference between the amount of chocolate bought at a convenience store and the amount of chocolate bought by sticking to the production method of one farmer is about several times, I think that there is too little difference. For example, a bottle of wine can be worth hundreds of yen to millions of yen.
If a market like wine can be made into chocolate, even small-scale farmers can earn enough income by making the highest quality original products, and have them continuously provide the highest quality products. can do.
No matter how good you make it, if the price is the same, you will not be motivated.
So MAMANO buys cacao at a high price. To that extent, a local partner (Mr. Uri) provides technical guidance to produce the highest quality products.
Factory manufacturing processI am particular about it.
I haven't made it so expensive yet, but eventually I would like to make chocolates from farmers with outstanding quality among the unions handled by MAMANO, for example, for tens of thousands of yen with one tablet. think.
In order to realize such an ideal, I would like to provide the best chocolate with even more passion.
Everyone, please enjoy chocolate more and more! !!