The Nitty Gritty
Most Recent Visit by Taza: June, 2018
Country: Dominican Republic
Number of Farmers: 1
Number of Female Farmers: 0
Numbers of Hectares Certified Organic: 1000
Total Cacao Exported: 1000MT
Year of Land Donation to Women's Association: 2013
Members of Women's Association: 16
Annual volume purchased by Taza: 25.2 metric tons
Average price paid by Taza*: $2,900 per metric ton
Ramón Garcia’s hilltop farm El Majagual sits along the Dominican Republic’s northern coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Ramón has been a Partner of ours for only two years, and during this year’s sourcing visit, I learned more about his life story and the cacao growing community he holds dear.
Ramón was 12 when his father passed away. Upon finishing school, his Uncle brought him to the port city of Santo Domingo to work at the family's cacao export company. He appreciated the opportunity to learn the family business, but it bothered him that most exporters cared so little about the environment or farms where the cacao grew. After 16 years of the city, his father’s land called him home. Here, Ramón explains, “I am the farmer and can focus on producing truly high quality, organic cacao.” His return also reunited him with Judy, his childhood sweetheart and following more than a decade apart, his wife.
After sharing his story over lunch at his farmhouse, Ramón excuses himself and leaves me and Barb Reilly, Taza’s Chief Marketing and Operating Officer, with Judy. She tells us about the first time she met Ramón, their life together, and the job managing a cacao farm. It's a tremendous amount of work, Judy confesses, and she must always be careful they make decisions with not only their hearts but their heads. “Ramón,” she shares, “loves his community and its people, and he has trouble saying no when they ask for loans or other favors.”
We see Ramón’s devotion to the community firsthand as we tour his farm in the late afternoon. In the midst of his property is a chocolate factory, but it's not his own. Several years ago, he donated the land to an association of local women. These entrepreneurs have since launched a small company that makes chocolate for nearby hotels and tourist shops. When I ask Ramón why he donated the property, he answers matter of factly, “So they could build this factory.” I leave it there. I sense that for Ramón, such generosity feels obvious, a natural act of giving back to the community that raised him, and years later, welcomed him home.
*Price Paid by Taza is on FOB terms and equal to the negotiated fixed price or to the negotiated premium plus the world market price on the day the contract is closed.