Work at the co-operative
With some fairly serious issues to address our work began in ernest. Cacao is a sensitive seed crop and the way it is handled from the moment it is picked is of utmost importance. It's hard to imagine, when you eat a candy bar-- or of course your favorite bean to bar $15 delicacy, the amount of work and meticulous detail that has gone into every part of the the raw commodities production. To produce the best chocolate, you need the best beans. To get the best beans, you need to handle them properly and of course the genetics and varieties flavor profile is also crucial to ensure your value proposition.
We immediately set about dissuading the practices seen above and began planning and developing a matrix for cooperative management. Riding around on motor bikes with chainsaws strapped to the front is all good and well, but the day to day operations of a cacao fermentation facility in the Peruvian jungle is hard work. My good friend Mostafa, a mechanical engineer from Australia, joined me for the second month to assist in the planning and much of the grunt work.
Resources are hard to come by in remote communities; the trick is to maximize the useful lifespan of them and promote the use of best practice in all areas of the production chain. First, we began the extension of the water line to add outlets for the newly constructed green house and to implement a cleaning strategy for the fermentation area. Hessian sacks are used to line the fermentation chambers and the bags covered in acidic juices are left to dry and degrade, so we began a washing process and constructed a hanging line for drying. Next we set about the first major clean of the fermentation area. This took half the day and was an epic task. The results speak for themselves.
The main dream we have for the project is to create a model implementation of our mapping and resource management system that we can then implement in other cacao communities. To begin this we hired a professional translator, Josh Slater Ipushima, and started by mapping a number of local farms and the co-op facility itself. Our server, fully loaded with all of the tools we would need, was installed and a very hard to source wireless only SIM card was procured. Now that we had internet we could begin the implementation and catch up on Game of Thrones.
Once we had mapped the co-operative, the next part was to lessen the amount of physical labor required to process a batch and build a system around documentation. Building a batch traceable methodology is the main feature of our value proposition so we measured, constructed, planned and sometimes drank late into the night.