5 Great & Fruitful Days with Malaysian Cocoa Board, Sarawak
We've found people and farmers we want to collaborate with, and overall it’s been a very successful trip to Borneo.
Before we tell our story in Sarawak, we would to say a special thanks to the Malaysian Cocoa Board: Dr. Lee, Mr. Haya, Mr. Rizman and Mr. Naeimi for making our 5 days together a memorable experience.
THIS PLACE IS BEAUTIFUL.
THE PEOPLE ARE AMAZING. AND YES, WE'VE FOUND CACAO!
— Day 1, Monday —
We began our trip from the Malaysian Cocoa Board’s (aka MCB) office in Kuching. We really didn't know what to expect, but we knew we were in good hands.
50km later, we arrived at Mr. Chang’s farm in Asajaya, and as always we were overwhelmed by peoples’ generous hospitality. We sat down, and the sounds of Malay started, Mr. Chang would try and speak to us, we would look at each other and then ask Mr. Rizman to translate.
Lost in translation is always fun.
Mr. Chang’s cacao plantation has no end of greenery, flourished with colourful cacao pods, and beautifully pruned trees. An indescribable place of cacao-heaven. We knew this was the one.
SAY HELLO TO YOUR
NEW CHOCOLATE EVERYONE.
— Day 2, Tuesday —
CATS HELP FARMERS
The next day we visited a cacao nursery and research farm. We won't talk too much about this, but we did learn an interesting fact: Cats help farmers, they guard the trees and fend off little pests. We do love kitties!
— Day 3, Wednesday—
We visited Mr. Cyril, an ex-commando. The one we've been waiting for and the one you've been waiting to try! He’s won an International award at the Cocoa of Excellence in Paris for Spicy, and it’s well earned and deserved.
This place and this farm is completely different, and Cyril’s approach to farming is not just growing fruitful cacao trees. It’s all types of science and experiments, much like we want to do with processing dried cacao beans to chocolate.
He could talk forever about his plantation with his exquisite knowledge about cacao trees. It’s mesmerising, especially his great big smile of joy.
He looks after his trees like babies, and he processes the beans with love and care. The fermenting and drying area is a great system that gives consistent results.
WE'RE SO EXCITED!
Afterwards we visited his brother Mr. Sylvester. We had to cross a rickety, unstable bridge above a river that may contain crocodiles — I must admit I didn't feel too safe, but the guys ahead made it and other people with basket-backpacks carrying cacao have. So, who needs to worry!
Yet again, another different cacao plantation with different ways of maintaining. But all seem to be very successful in all these different practices. From witnessing these farms; we know that any farm can be greatly delicious once you understand that where you live, its climate, maintenance and what you do affects the flavours and aromas of cacao.
— Day 4, Thursday —
It took 2 hours to do 30 kilometers.
The road was rough and randomly steep at times.
We arrived safely thanks to Mr. Naeimi, who is a fantastic off-road driver! Stepping out of the vehicle into the baking hot sun, we walked into a cool, relaxing longhouse. Our first longhouse of the trip, and we can’t express how much we enjoyed this place. An unforgettable experience; the kindness, the smiles, the joy, and the people are truly one of a kind.
Before we spoke about why we were here, the Gawai celebration began. We sat down with the Head of the Village, Mr. Utum who served us a delightful tea with snacks.
During this time, most of the village started to sit down with us, there are at least 19 doors with 120 people, each house made their own “Tuak” a traditional drink aka rice wine.
Each one came with a cup of their rice wine, here comes the degustation! Absolutely amazing, they were distinctly different – some sweet, some sour, some ricey and some really strong… This was an experience that we couldn't get anywhere else.
During this degustation, we spoke to Mr. Utum about our ambitions and how we see the cocoa industry alongside our new venture. He’s very understanding about what we'd like to achieve, and how he'd be able to help.
The villages’ plantation was amazing, it’s spread over many, many hectares of hilly land with just over 20 farmers to help maintain this farm. It’s surely a workout, especially if it’s over 30 degree heats.
We saw a gem!
— The most beautiful cacao pod coloured green and yellow, it didn't seem real, yet it was because it tasted so delicious!
We thank the village for the unexpected, amazing experience and MCB for taking us there.
What a treasure!
— Day 5, the last day, Friday —
Nurseries, cats, Dogs
and an ABUNDANCE of fruit.
We met Mr. Nasaruddin who had 3 farms that all served different purposes. He had interesting techniques and maintenance who strives for sustainability, quality and efficiency.
He also believed in animals keeping away pests, which seem to work very well.
He had plenty of fruitful trees that were all kept well, like a tidy little forest kept by elves.
OF A NEW CHAPTER
We thank you again for your support, and for reading our story. We hope to share more about our adventures when we see you all very soon!