Meet the farmers

 

Without cacao, there would be no chocolate, and without committed, passionate farmers, we would have no cacao. We are proud to feature a handful of the incredible smallholder farmers that we work closely with, and who play an important role in creating superior chocolate.


Eva Fernandez Ruiz

Community: Santa Clara, Costa Rica
Status: Improving Productivity
Picture of Eva Fernandez and her daughter, Evita

 

Eva Fernandez Ruiz, also known as Doña Eva, is a smallholder cacao producer operating in Northern Costa Rica.

She cares for her elderly mother, and lives with her only daughter, Evita, who attends a local high school. The family relies on income from the sale of small amounts of produce and cacao, as well as temporary jobs held by Eva.

When Eva was a child, her father worked as a day laborer on one of the larger farms in the region. For his years of hard work and loyal service, her father was given a small plot of land. Upon acquiring new land, Eva’s father planted a cacao forest, hoping to establish a reliable and consistent income for his family. However, when disease struck cacao plantations throughout Costa Rica in the 1970s and 1980s, Eva’s father abandoned his small plantation.

Eva inherited her father’s cacao plantation, which had become overgrown and unproductive. Any harvest available Eva sold in the local market.

Over the years, Eva became unable to keep up with the demands of managing her 7 hectare cacao plantation. She was not applying proper pruning methods and unable to remove large decaying branches from unproductive trees. Nahua agronomists visited Eva and recognized that her cacao farm was not maximizing its productivity potential.

Now Eva’s plantation is undergoing an improvement/renovation process which will allow her in two years to benefit from improved productivity and a meaningful increase in  household income.


José García

Community: Las Delicias, Costa Rica
Status: Improving productivity
Picture of Jose Garcia at a Nahua cacao processing facility

 

Jose Garcia, 22, lives with his single mother and six siblings in Upala, Costa Rica. Jose had been working odd jobs in the city until he returned to his mother’s home to help support the family.

Upon returning, Jose secured a job as an assistant at one of Nahua’s cacao fermentation facilities.

Recognizing an opportunity to revive his family’s history of cacao production, Jose planted 0.5 hectares of new cacao trees on his family’s one-hectare plot of land.

A knowledgeable farmer and hard worker, Jose manages his cacao farm with close attention and care. He makes sure trees are properly pruned and that diseased pods are removed promptly.

By participating in Nahua’s Cropping and Nutrition Program Jose receives soil and water analysis services to determine the nutritional balance of his farm. Nahua agronomists then identify the appropriate combination of inputs and enroll Jose in a savings program.

Once Jose is able to save 30% of the value of his farm’s input and fertilizer needs, he is able to access Nahua input financing.  Nahua expects to provide Jose with valuable inputs that hold the potential to more than double his productivity in the next 12 months.

Jose is also part of a broader movement Nahua expects to lead. By providing a stable and fair market for cacao, as well as services to renovate abandoned farms, Nahua hopes to draw producing family members from cities back to their rural land. Costa Rica has a proud history of cacao farmers. Nahua expects to help Jose become part of that legacy.


Edwin Sibaja

Community: Guatuso, Costa Rica
Status: Highly qualified producer
Edwin Sibaja demonstrating his improved cacao varieties

 

Edwin Sibaja lives with his family on a small plot of land in Guatuso, the town on the outskirts of Upala. Edwin has many years of agricultural experience. He operates a carefully managed family cacao plantation and implements sustainable agricultural practices.

Edwin is an astute learner and is always seeking out ways to improve his cacao production. He is also a respected community leader and is often found on his neighbors’ plantations helping share cacao producing best practices.

Edwin represents those cacao producers that successfully implement sustainable growing practices as well as proper cropping and nutrition, in accordance with the Nahua Cacao Renovation Program. Tending a well-managed plantation with an appropriate balance of nutrients, Edwin now requires assistance to improve the quality of the varieties of his cacao trees.

As a member of Nahua’s producer network, Edwin will benefit from the company’s greenhouse and access to high-quality cacao varieties. Technical assistants also work with Edwin to ensure he has the tools necessary to manage his own cacao tree nursery.

Edwin remains committed to Nahua’s mission in the region, to reinvigorate cacao production throughout the region by aiding producers in bolstering their productivity and improving the quality of their product.


Below you can meet more of Upala’s devoted producers: