The Cuyancúa farm, one of the oldest in the country, located in the municipality of Izalco, has promoted cocoa cultivation in the area for 15 years. It went from four apples of old cocoa to 20 cultivated apples with 15,540 productive plants in 2023.
The strategy is promoted by the passionate cacao grower, Rafael Trigueros Hecht, who, after repeated losses with the cultivation of low-lying coffee, opted for cacao.
«In 2009, we saw that there were many problems with the coffee because it was from lowlands, (of lower quality) and we saw that cocoa did not suffer much from diseases such as rust, and after so many years of losing with coffee, we worked to reactivate the cocoa,” said the producer.
His farm, which still preserves old trees of this fruit, estimated to be between 200 and 300 years old, set the standard for determining that this crop was a safe bet without neglecting dedication and modernization.
«I want to promote the cultivation of cocoa in a good way in the country. I would like us to reach the 10,000 hectares that we had when the Spanish arrived, if not more. That is our fight of the last 15 years », he reiterated.
According to data from Trigueros, with proper technical attention, cacao can produce 15 quintals per manzana, ready for export, and a properly attended plant can produce for up to 40 years for commercial use.
On its way to export the grain, which bore fruit as of 2018, Trigueros affirms that among the 3,000 varieties of cocoa that were subjected to DNA tests and other scientific processes carried out by international technicians from the cocoa world, five were obtained. high-quality commercial varieties that managed to enter the European market.
«To commercialize, the European market was sought, we have everything from seed to commercialization throughout Europe. We managed to do that in 15 years. We are exporting to a family company, my son lives in Italy and has set up a chocolate shop that he buys from us and from other Central American farmers,” he explained.
According to Trigueron Hecht, this buyer, who acquires 80% of his production, consistently pays twice the price stipulated on the New York Stock Exchange to his suppliers thanks to the quality of the product.
The farmer affirms that all of Central America produces only 5,000 tons of this product, and El Salvador could go through around 1,000 tons of it per year.
“We have to be self-sufficient; that’s why we bet on exports. We want it to be an alternative for the country, and that is why we are working hard on it. The fight is first to show that it can be done, that there is a very interesting export market, and the prices are much more stable than coffee”, he pointed out.
Finca Cuyancúa processes the grain for its own benefit, which was previously used for coffee, but thanks to added improvements from international experiences, it became one of only three in the world with these characteristics. “We made it eco-friendly; there are only three cocoas in the world like that because it does not burn fossil fuel and the sun’s energy is used,” said the producer. The mill has the capacity to process cocoa from up to 2,000 manzanas.