Guillermina Carpio Nieve &
Retired and Future
“My story with cocoa started 55 years ago, at the peak of teen years when I was 17, and together with my husband - who owned a cocoa farm inherited from his mother - we started the farm work. She was left 800 cocoa hectares and throughout those years I helped him planting cocoa trees. However, during those years cocoa was worth little or nothing as opposed to recent days in which by selling 1 ‘quintal’ (100 lbs) you can get by for a week’s food supplies. Throughout all these years - making a living surrounded by these fruits - I have realised that whenever harvest times come we became victims of cocoa price manipulation to the buyers and manufactures’ advantage, and I have endured this situation all my life.
Likewise, cocoa theft in farms is another misfortune we witness all the time. There were also times prior to the current government, when neighbours used to help each other by breeding farm animals (chickens, etc.) and growing different minor fruit crops. We would grow garden centres under mango trees and once they were ready we would all clean together and pile crops up so that on harvest days cocoa choppers wouldn’t harm them and make us re-plant them. In the past, rain was heavier, the cocoa production was more productive and fruitful than it is now, perhaps due to climate change... In those times, my husband recalled, once our first fermentation boxes (where cocoa flavours emanate) were ready, he took part in some sort of contests - I never attended those events - but he did and even won two prizes to my surprise, one for best fermented cocoa bean and another for the best chocolate, and this took place in the town of ‘San José’ in Río Chico. Even on one occasion, a group of journalism students paid us a visit as they wondered what a cocoa farm was like...
It saddens me now that ageing hasn’t allowed me to walk around the farms and work on them. Rumour has it they are not well looked after and ironically now that cocoa is worth more than before I cannot look after my own precious lands. I hope my next generations can appreciate the value these crops can bring to us, just as my grandson Gerson who - despite his short age - already owns a cocoa farm and even though his knowledge is basic and his land small he can help the family with food and provide for his own personal needs.
Gerson finds himself motivated to work the land when he sees other very poor community people working hard on the lands that bear cocoa fruits, with the hope that when the trees are ready to harvest - they will become independent, they keep my grandson going. He gets radiated with this energy that encourages him to be one day, a big landowner. He’d love to learn more about cocoa transformation at least to be able to make cocoa paste and generate better profits. His wish and vision is that more people can get access to and develop their own cocoa lands so that our lives can be better in the near future...
I hope to be alive and witness my grandson’s dream come true.”