Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The little house in the organic plantation: cacao is a family affair

Our last visit is to the cacao plantation of the late Arturo Masias, one of the cooperative’s founders. As eldest son, Basilio Masias took charge of the farm on behalf of his siblings after his father passed away. Reina Condori, Basilio’s wife, and their four children greeted us. The youngest one is carried on Reina’s back and is only a few months old. She explained to us that the whole family is involved during the harvest. Even the eldest children of their relatives come to help after school. While Basilio climbs up the trees to pick up the cacao beans, she cuts them in two. Reina gave a brief demonstration. I was impressed by her ability to cut cacao fruits using such a huge and impressive knife. While walking around the plantation, where the last cacao fruits were hanging and I tried to imagine how the plantation would have looked before the harvest season, with the many yellow cacao beans hanging everywhere. Around the cacao plants, they grow organic bananas that are used to provide some shadow to the cacao and for family consumption. With pride, Reina told us that they were able to build a better house thanks to the premium they received from their cacao. After taking the last pictures, we left them as Reina must prepare lunch for the family and put the baby to sleep. We were invited for lunch back at El Ceibo quarters. It was nice to see some of the farmers again that we met the day before and say good-bye before taking the long road back to La Paz.

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