My dear friend in Red Hook has some property, along with a group of American Ex Pats,
in Western Costa Rica, just south of the equator.
He and I have been thinking about what to do with it. He was after me on Solar Farming, and selling power to the other techies there. I suggested growing Caco plants.
Or perhaps both. There are a few plants are on the property, but not thriving. The word is the jungle has encroached too much and the plants are very fusy.
It also takes a few years to bring production up; and seeding / cutting / launching a new plantation is a big project. Even if it is an old abandoned plantation. It is in the foothills by the coast, and gets monsoon rains daily. We would have to redo-drainage and were even thinking of micro hydro power.
I would love to discuss/partner with someone on this endevour. I'm a PhD but not a biochemist, like my dear friend Prof. Murphy. Your thoughts on this potential project welcome. How much seed funding is required, and how long to recover the investment ? Can we sell the raw Coco in Red Hook or broker it out ?
Um, Costa Rica is 9 degrees NORTH of the equator, so you might want to re-check your coordinates.
It really depends what type of land it is. Cacao grows between 0-2100 ft in altitude, in very wet conditions. Naturally, the flatter the land the easier it is to grow/harvest cacao. Most of the plantations in Costa Rica are using the 4x4 scheme, which means a tree planted every 4 meters in a grid pattern.
As far as required investment, it really hinges on the extension of the land, how overgrown the land is, how hilly or flat, and how much infrastructure is already in place. Plan on spending easily 50% more than originally budgeted, that's just the way things are in Central America. Time frame for first harvest from clones: ~4 years.
As far as selling the cacao, remember that to be useful to the chocolate industry it must be fermented and dried. Only if it is of exceptional quality will you get people to make the trek to you, so the best plan would be to actively market the product internationally and line up your buyers well in advance.
just a note cheebs - cacao will grow much higher than 2100 feet in the right conditions. I have seen it at 4000 feet before, although it appears that this is not the norm. but where he is it may very well grow up higher than 2100
i totally agree that sales focus should come before even planting to get an idea of what potential buyers would want in terms of variety and post harvest processing. this will inform every decision you would make about what and how to plant Dr. K, and thus the cost structure.