Fermin Arriaga & Finca Patricia in Honduras: Cocoa Farmers Making a Difference
Askinosie work DIRECTLY with farmers, flying to Mexico, Ecuador, Tanzania and Honduras among other places to try out the beans they are growing there and to make chocolate from it if it meets their high standards. It may surprise you that Askinosie chocolate isn’t marked as “Fairtrade” but that is because Askinosie pays EVEN MORE than Fairtrade prices and cuts out any middle-men. This means the farmer gets all the money from the cocoa sales.
Sometimes farms are difficult to get to. In some areas of the world, farmers do have to move their cocoa for miles and miles to get it to a place it can be shipped from. Luckily in Honduras, the farm that Askinosie deals with is in Cortez and extends to the coast. The ares of Cortez isn’t huge and yet has a long and proud history of cocoa dating back to the Mayans. They got around a lot those Mayans… Shawn didn’t pick the farm and farmer based on history though – he chose it because of flavour.
The farm Shawn deals directly with is just a few miles away from the Port of Cortés. Being so close to a port makes the logistics of shipping cocoa beans much easier for both Fermin Arriaga and Askinosie. In Honduras generally we can see that ancient delicious strains are still (luckily) grown. It is because of this perfect cocoa growing to a high standard that farmers in Cortes are able to garner higher prices. This geographical area has a long history of cocoa farming that dates back all the way to the Mayan civilization – really!
Cocoa in Honduras has come a long way since the time of the Mayans, let alone since the early years of the turn of the millennium when the cocoa industry was on the brink of extinction. So many things came together to try and destroy Honduran cocoa – a devastating hurricane, La Monilia diseases and low prices all combined to almost catastrophically diminish the area of Honduras under cocoa cultivation. What survived did not just survive but also thrived and are some of the finest cocoa in the world now.
The market demand is definitely moving towards fine cocoa, not just driven by Shawn and his extremely ethical approach to sharing profits with farners, not just buying cocoa. It’s being driven by you and me dear reader so by using native varieties to Honduras such as the Trinitario Superior, Indio Rojo, and Criollo Antiguo, not only can these varieties be preserved here in Honduras, but the farmers themselves can see the benefits.
After years of research international experts have found that these origin beans in Honduras are of extremely high quality and can command something like 3 – 4 times above the standard price of cocoa. AMAZING! What is even better is that this cocoa makes absolutely brilliant chocolate and with farmers like Fermin Arriaga helping to ensure his 125 blocks continue producing about 12 bushels per acre, all farmers following this lead can improve their earnings from cocoa. The farm Shawn buys from at last check (that I could find) produces a massive 40,500kgs annually and they have some amazing beans.
By buying chocolate from companies like Askinosie (none besides Askinosie share profits with farmers that I am aware of, I’m talking about chocolate makers who buy directly from farmers), you support farmers getting paid the most possible for their beans. Not only are they able to get more because they are producing quality cocoa, they are paid more because the middle man is cut out. Support farmers in cocoa growing regions – buy quality chocolate!