Cacao pods, chocolate coming up! P8305369

P8305369 Cacao pods, chocolate coming up!

The other emblematic tropical tree -- cacao -- is a scrubby, rain forest tree (it needs shade to thrive). Kokopo Tours takes visitors to plantations where they can see these trees, imports from South America, themselves. You have to salute the ancient Mayans who developed the process to transform the seeds of this ugly little tree into delicious chocolate. The seed pods grow just about anywhere along the trunk and branches. The pods are harvested, the seeds extracted, fermented, washed, and dried to clean off the gunk around them, then shipped off to processors. A major problem is "the market" - layers of opportunistic dealers between the producers and the users who play market games. In mid-2013 they forced prices down so low that 90% of producers around Rabaul simply stopped harvesting. The return is not worth the effort. Such artificial market booms and busts are convincing growers that there are better ways of making money than growing cacao. Maybe the developed world will wake up one day that if it wants the luxury of chocolate, it has to pay a fair price for it at source and have some stability in the market so growers can be assured of a reasonable income.

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