Country: Dominican Republic
Region: El Cibao, Espaillat Province
Number of Farmers: 1
Partner Since: 2017
Ramón García Amaro has known cacao from his first breath. Born on his father’s cacao farm, Ramón moved in with his uncle Don Isidro when his father passed away. From Don Isidro, Ramón learned how to farm, warehouse and export cacao, and when he finished school, he joined his uncle in the capital Santo Domingo to work for the family’s cacao export company. Ramón appreciated the opportunity to learn the family business, but it bothered him how little most traders cared about cacao growers and their farms. So after 16 years in the city, he returned to his childhood home to manage his land and that of his mother, brothers and cousins. Ramón’s true calling is cultivating cacao rather than trading it, and after a visit to his farm, it is easy to see why.
Ramón’s hilltop farm El Majagual lies along the Dominican Republic’s northern coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Among his carefully cultivated cacao trees, birds and butterflies of all sizes, shapes and colors make their home. All of Ramón’s cacao is grown organically, as are oranges, bananas, plantains, and other foods he has intercropped throughout the farm. On the edge of his property is a very small chocolate factory, but it's not his own. Several years ago, Ramón donated the land to an association of local women who makes chocolate to sell at the hotels and shops a 30 minute drive and world away.
The fermentation takes place in wooden boxes that each have a capacity of 625 pounds of cacao. We have three different fermentation centers for the farm, and the entire process takes a total of 6 days. We also have 50 solar drying tunnels, and 8 mechanical dryers, but these mechanical ones are only used during very rainy periods because they don’t get as hot and therefore require more time.
The cacao trees have been bred from the genetic varieties of many countries - Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Trinidad, Peru and Brazil. There is also a mix of cacao native to Venezuela, Trinitario from Trinidad, Nacional from Ecuador, and Amelonado from Brazil. We have 250 hectares of this very fine quality cacao.