In February of 2015 we applied for and received a seed grant for building fermentation infrastructure. The key success of the grant was that is served as a major catalyst for over seventy APARMASH members to work together to implement a standardized, and centralized system for growing and processing cacao. Particularly, the organization members met on a bi-weekly basis to develop a plan for construction and collaborative usage and maintenance of batch fermenters and solar dryers. This was instrumental for increasing the efficiency of processing and quality of product, thus increasing the price that APARMASH members were able to sell their product. In addition, APARMASH effectively coordinated for its members to receive technical assistance on organic growing practices, in efforts to obtain organic certification. We directed the $5000 to APARMASH and helped as we could from afar.
The biggest challenges involved both harvesting sacha inchi to scale, and transportation and export of cocoa for central storage. First, APARMASH technical assistance efforts around growing and harvesting sacha inchi focused on plating techniques to bring the product to scale, as historically the crop grows sporadically throughout farms. The organization aims to centrally process sacha inchi for the upcoming harvest. Second, APARMASH was able to utilize local storage facilities leased by the local municipality. However, the transportation of cacao from rural farms in the Rio Mayo Valley to centralized processing facilities was a key challenge.