RANCHO GRANDE, NICARAGUA
After spending months developing relationships with communities and familiarizing ourselves with each other’s resources and dreams, ENLIVEN finally narrowed their focus to Rancho Grande Nicaragua, a town 2 hours into the mountains outside Matagalpa. Coffee is the primary crop grown in this region, but the majority of large scale coffee farmers in Rancho Grande grow cacao trees on their land as a secondary crop. Although their land is ideal for growing Cacao and the crop is significant it is largely undervalued. As soon as we entered their community we began talking to the people about their livelihoods as well as inquiring about their ties to cacao. Many conversations led us to connect with several farmers that are considered experts in growing cacao; a family trade for many generations. These farmers are truly the pillars in their communities and loyally support the people around them.
Although experts in growing cacao, the farmers generally have very little experience in the products that are produced from the raw cacao plant. Many of the farmers have never tasted chocolate. Due to this lack of knowledge the farmers believe little value can be obtained from cacao. Enliven is working with these farmers to develop an understanding of the value chain of their crop which will help determine where in the process we should engage our stateside business partners. The novice eye would see these Nicaraguan farmers as poor, but when one truly knows the farmer it’s clear that they are very rich. Rich in ideas and experience, they truly have a skill-set that is unrivaled and a passion for the land that is genuine. A combination of their ingenuity with the enliven toolbox are their ingredients for success.