In Robillard, a tiny hamlet deep in the Haitian hinterland, Valmir Mamonvil is standing next to a would-be national hero: Maman Pye cacao, which in Haitian Creole means “mother cacao tree.” His father planted it 30 years ago, but for Mamonvil, the tree is more than a family heirloom. It could be his kids’ ticket to prosperity — and his country’s chance to cash in on surging chocolate demand around the world.Maman Pye is one of about 600 “supertrees” scattered throughout northern Haiti. Supertrees are not unique to Haiti. They don’t even seem remarkable, until you look closer. These mamas can produce 20 times as many cacao pods as ordinary trees, and the pods themselves are denser with cacao seeds than ordinary pods. What’s more, their fruitful ways are easily spread, largely by grafting.All of which makes Maman Pye and its sisters key to realizing a long-cherished dream in Haiti: to rev up cacao production and gain a foothold in the high-end global chocolate market, says Philippe Mathieu, a chocolate lover and former agriculture minister who now directs USAID’s cacao program. “We are looking to find a niche market, because Haiti can provide chocolate for the connoisseur,” he says. via | WBUR & NPR.
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