Understanding the genetics and sexual compatibility of cocoa planting material is an essential building block to a successful farm. Productivity can be increased by planting grafted seedlings which are high producing, yet fine flavor. It is also critical to preserve local varieties and work with researchers to get them identified and assess yield and quality.
We planted our first blocks of cocoa in 2017 in an agroforestal model using Xoco Cacao’s Mayan Red grafting material. In 2019 we planted our second block using CATIE’s varieties and set up a genebank of other local varieties from a mostly abandoned demonstration plot in Toledo district. We are continuing to plant more Mayan Red and replanting our genebanks which suffered some insect damage. We also provide grafted planting material to local farms and source wet cocoa beans from small farmers in the Stann Creek district.
In 2021 we won a Compete Caribbean grant to enhance our traceability systems and worked with Dr Darin Sukha from the Cocoa Research Centre, University of The West Indies to train our staff in fermentation, drying, cut tests and sensory analysis. Along with our chocolate operation, this has enhanced our export cocoa bean quality.
Our planting now includes balam (Theobroma bicolor) also known as mocambo tree, jaguar tree or pataxte. We look forward to producing unique chocolates from our balam trees when they mature.