Working Direct Trade with Farmers
At TEO, direct trade isn't some arbitrary claim or mysterious certification but a commitment made with our farmers. The average cacao farmer globally, makes under $1 per day. This is a painful example of what happens when a fair market regulation doesn't exist. Direct trade ensures a direct exchange of money with the farmer for their goods and services. Which is the way it should be!
There are benefits for the farmers such as an increase in profits through cutting out the middlemen, reducing the chance for abuse which is created through lack of regulation. But customers can also benefit with through this direct relationship as well, with more control over the product. Added passion for the business by being involved in the production of raw materials.
Our farm relationship
One of the farmers that with work with through our importing partner CROPHUB is Diego, our partner farmer in Ecuador.
Diego's cacao farm is green and beautiful. The Cacao trees need shade and a humid-warm environment to thrive. But upon entering the grove it is comfortable and cool. The giant cacao leaves continually shed and fall on the ground creating constant fertilizer and a moist atmosphere. Diego grows the CCN-51 cacao tree, a resilient hybrid invented by his grandfather, Homero Castro. Learn more about this variety here. These trees are bred to grow to a shorter height to make cultivation and harvest of the cacao simpler.
Diego uses organic farming practices. He doesn't use pesticides or chemicals but instead, plants specific plants that naturally protect the trees and their fruit from pests.
Diego's family has been working the farm for over 80 years and have hired more employees as their farm and business has grown. Diego needs a team of about 30 people to help with cultivation, harvesting, fermenting, bagging, and shipping of the cacao. His farmers are paid $17 a day and insurance is provided in case of injury or illness. Most of his workers have worked with him for years because of the excellent pay and benefits they receive compared to other industries in the area.
In his farming region, there exists a constant danger of looters attacking the transport trucks that take the cacao to port because of their high value. To avoid falling victim to this, Diego doesn't tell his workers when the transport truck is coming. When the trucks arrive, he has every worker give him their phone to ensure safety of the cacao. We often have no idea of what it takes to get the cacao products so many of us enjoy.
We look for family farms like Diego's to work with us and ensure that, through direct trade, they are compensated fairly for the work they do. We believe that fair trade practices are part of the solution in the cacao industry and are committed to it. We encourage cacao and chocolate companies to always do direct trade and to ensure their farmer partners are taken care of. We encourage consumers to only buy direct trade or fair trade to pressure industries to operate at a higher standard. At the end of the day we don't believe that business is about the products, but the people, and direct trade is the practice that supports it.