Matasawalevu Cocoa is part of a cocoa industry revitalization project on Fiji’s second largest island, Vanua Levu, led by Arif Khan of Cacao Fiji. Arif started Cacao Fiji in 2014 after tasting a chocolate bar sourced from Fiji beans and talking to farmers on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu, about the difficulties they had finding markets for their cocoa. Arif was inspired to return to his home country and build a link to the craft chocolate movement farming, processing and exporting Fiji cocoa beans.
Through Cacao Fiji, Arif runs the Matasawalevu Cocoa Project at the Matasawalevu Cocoa Farm located on 100 acres in the hills of Dreketi, Macuata in Northern Fiji. The Matasawalevu Cocoa Farm closely follows traditional post-harvest processing techniques and has a reputation for producing high quality cocoa. In 2015, Cacao Fiji’s Matasawalevu Cocoa was selected to be included in the 50 best samples leading up to the final International Cocoa Awards.
Ben Tre is a coastal province on the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, a low-lying, tropical region with a vast network of rivers, rice paddies, and swamplands. It has hundreds of miles of canals that reach far into the farmland. The land is extremely fertile, and as such, has been intensively farmed for more than a century. Located between two main branches of the Mekong’s largest tributary, Ben Tre Province is birthplace of cacao in Vietnam. The terrain is ﬂat with an altitude of less than 5 meters above sea level, and many farmers of a variety of crops take advantage of the area’s abundance of fresh water and alluvial soil. Marou Faiseurs De Chocolat sources from a variety of regions throughout Vietnam. In each region, they partner with cacao groups of 30-40 members. Each group has a leader who, besides having a farm of 2-3 hectares, also buys wet beans from the others in the group and ferments them in wooden boxes at their farm. Marou has a very hands-on approach to quality control; each bag is tested at selection, and farmers receive feedback and technical assistance throughout the harvest season.