Hello and good day!
The gentleman in the photo above, standing next to my brother Brian, is a cacao farmer named Don Becho. We've been buying cacao from Don Becho for a long time, and he has a remarkably well run and maintained cacao farm.
Don Becho is a very shrewd business man.
About 6 years ago, when a bridge was finally built over the river that separates the canyon where we buy cacao from the highway, Don Becho made a killing. He saw a couple of years before the bridge was built that raising cattle would become very profitable.
It used to be that all exports out of the canyon had to be transported across the river on a floating square barge that was connected to a thick metal cable and pulled along by the current. This made getting large quantities of cattle across the river all but impossible.
For cacao, we had to load up small freight trucks and drive them onto the platform barge and float our cacao across the river. We did that for a very long time.
The bridge has been a real boon.
Don Becho had been accumulating land for years through successful business dealings out in campo. He was one of the first cacao farmers to sell into our project and Brian remembers being very intimidated by Don Becho in the beginning.
He is very serious. He asks a million probing questions. He is completely confident in his own ability. And he owns a ton of land.
Anyhow, for all intents and purposes, Don Becho was far wealthier than anyone when we first showed up out there.
He might still be. But he is country rich. Lots of land. Lots of money, we think.
However, his land is situated right next to a dirt road with no drainage and it floods when the rain is heavy. He lives out there because his parents homesteaded the area as part of the original wave of inhabitants to the zone, and that land is what he knows.
He walks around his property barefoot. He busts his tail from sun up to sun down every day and his family members are expected to do the same.
What happened with the cattle was that as soon as Don Becho heard about plans for the bridge, he started to raise cattle. He filled up a lot of the empty land he had been sitting on.
As the bridge was built, his cattle grew. It took a couple of years for the construction work to be completed, and right when the first cattle buyers came across the bridge, he already had a herd ready to sell.
It was very impressive.
As for selling us cacao, we know that visits to Don Becho's farm take longer. He counts his money over and over again. He works his calculator repeatedly, assuring that he has the proper calculation for what is owed.
He double and triple checks everything and will also try to negotiate on price if he senses that one of our buyers is weak.
Many years ago, one of our team members ran over one of Don Becho's turkeys while riding by on a motorcycle.Out in campo, it is the law of the land that animals have the right of way on country roads.
This makes things challenging because animals wonder off their farms and into the road all the time. If you accidentally hit an animal, which is inevitable, you are required to pay restitution to the farmer for the animal you killed.
When our guy hit the turkey and killed it, Don Becho came running out into the road in a wild fury, demanding an exorbitant payment for his dead turkey. The outrage was very likely a negotiating tactic and it worked. He got an above market price out of us.
Anyhow, there are brilliant and quirky folks all over the place. Everywhere you go there are characters.
Folks out in campo know of Don Becho's business acumen. and they follow the moves he makes. He tries to keep a lot close to his vest so people won't ruin his advantage by copying him and flooding the market with the product he wants to sell.
But he publicly announced that he was going to sell cacao to us a long while back and that brought a lot of other folks into our project.
If you've been enjoying our chocolate for a while, you've almost certainly eaten some cacao grown by Don Becho and his family.
Thanks for giving me a moment of your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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