- Milagro and Elmer increased their income in 80% by improving their chocolate bar´s production management.
Elmer and Milagro, or the “Martínez Domínguez family” as they are known in their community for their entrepreneurial energy and willingness to share their knowledge, have great enthusiasm in managing their cocoa plantation, becoming leading producers, artisanal processors and innovative marketers, as well as a reference in the community. Their determination and dedication yielded fruits since they have reached new goals and improved their small cocoa processing business, and are now producing chocolate slats ready to make a hot cup of chocolate.
The family participates in the MOCCA project of Cantón Agua Zarca, in Morazán, El Salvador.
Elmer volunteers as a community promoter, providing training and technical assistance to other producers in his community. The family owns a farm with a total area of 7 hectares.
They have set aside a cocoa area of 2.5 hectares within their farm that was established with an Agroforestry Systems Approach (SAF): the cocoa plot is in the midst of avocado, guaba and banana trees. The remaining property is cultivated with Sweet Oranges, Mandarin, Mamey, Arrayan, Nance, Licha and Guanaba trees in addition to forest trees such as Cedar, Laurel, Guapinol and Amate. To improve the soil of the plot, they are applying improved compost, which the MOCCA project has taught them how to make.
In 2021 they produced 20 quintals of dry cocoa; the knowledge acquired at the MOCCA Project workshops, in addition to the effort made to enhance the plot, will allow them to increase their production to 30 quintals in 2022. Their goal now is to reach at least 60 quintals in the next two years.
Elmer and Milagro started out empirically as cocoa processors, producing the chocolate “tablilla”, to make a hot chocolate drink. At the beginning everything was going well, but due to the fact that the tablilla became moldy in a period of 12 to 15 days because their manufacturing process consisted in adding water during manufacturing, it was rejected in their community. But thanks to the new practices acquired for the elaboration of chocolate at the Centro de Tecnología Agropecuaria, with the support of the MOCCA project, they are now using better technology in the manufacturing of the slats, without the addition of water, thus enhancing slat quality and shelf life up to 8 months, expanding in this way, their opportunities to market the product in their communities and their surroundings.
“Our income increase is 80%! The reduction of losses caused by damaged products and the increased shelf life of the product allowed us to increase our sales from US$20 to US$100 per week. For our family is very significant because we went from receiving US$1,040 per year to US$4,800 per year from the sale of the tablillas”Milagro Domínguez | Cocoa producer
Morazán, El Salvador
The training received by Milagros and Elmer, has made them reflect about their future and the business approach to cocoa production and processing. The growth in their sales is such that their next step in 2023 will be to buy cocoa from their neighbors to increase their sales and invest their earnings in the education of their children and in improving their farm.
“Producing and processing cocoa with the MOCCA Project has changed our lives, we have gone from being a day laborer and a housewife to small entrepreneurs”Milagro Domínguez | Cocoa producer
Morazán, El Salvador