In the community of Charagre in the district of Changuinola Bocas del Toro, exists a humble family that, has been devoted to the production of chocolate for three generations.
Mr. Lozada explained the production of chocolate from ‘Cacao” has been their livelihood that since the time of his grandparents. . However, even more than the preservation of tradition, what gives the family the most pride and distinction is that their cocoa plantations are based on an agroforestry-sustainable system. He explained that they had learned of this system of agriculture from their ancestors. The cocoa plantations are situated amongst other plants such as bananas, plantains, and trees used for wood, like cedro, caoba, etc. The use of agrochemicals products is avoided; therefore the chocolate is considered Organic.
As an alternative method to agrochemicals, monitoring is used for pest control on these plantations. For example, when small seedlings are monitored and a plague is suspected, the plant or just its leaves are eliminated. The fruit is also monitored and is removed if either the Phytophora and Monilia diseases are present. The latter is classified as an algae, which is extremely aggressive for cocoa beans, as it completely destroys the fruit.
The Lozada family also uses organic compost from other sites as a sustainable resource. This is one of the ways that they use all the resources at their disposal, reducing expenses and increasing sustainability.
Currently the chocolate is sold under the label ‘Machandai’ which is a very meaningful name for the entire Bocas del Toro town and will be marketed by the ASAP (Association Silvo-Agropecueria), in which many Bocatoreños, including small farmers, engineers and doctors (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzM374DrS5A).
The Machandai name was selected because it refers to the railroad that existed for many years in that area and whose function was to transport dry goods (mainly bananas) and thousands of people. The railroad was key to the economy of the region of Bocas del Toro.
The Machaindai, both in name and product, is a reminder of the rich history and agricultural traditions of the region.
By Anakena Castillo (Indicasat-aip)