TABASCO — Dropping oil prices and the ensuing job losses in the Gulf state of Tabasco have resulted in a resurgence in the production of cacao.
The promise of better jobs in cities and on oil rigs and the onslaught of a plague doomed a once prosperous industry: from 80,000 hectares dedicated to cacao in the 1990s the area fell to just 60,000 by the early 2000s.
At its lowest, only 20,000 hectares remained in production; the rest fell into disuse or cacao was replaced by more popular crops like sugar cane and papaya.
But the efforts of farmers and industry leaders focused not only on exporting but on a nascent market for niche gourmet products have sent a lifeline to the local cacao plantations. Today, the state’s 40,000 hectares produce close to 18,000 tonnes of cocoa seeds.
Haciendas that had been turned into museums are once again becoming productive, reactivating the local economy and creating much-needed jobs in the state’s cacao corridor, which takes in the municipalities of Cunduacán, Comalcalco and Cárdenas.
Reactivated cacao estates and plantations also earn extra income by offering guided tours that explain to visitors the history of the plant and the different processes it undergoes before becoming chocolate.
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