News Date: August 17 2016
A new indigenous chocolate bar is about to hit the shelves.
Biche and Cushe is the product of the Biche community and the latest in efforts to turn Trinidad and Tobago into a viable chocolate producer.
The product is the result of an ongoing project by the Alliance for Rural Communities (ARC) to develop chocolate manufacturing in rural communities across Trinidad and Tobago.
Gillian Goddard, the woman behind the project and producer of the Suneaters Organics and Machel Montano chocolate brands, said the project started two years ago in 2013 and the first community was Lopinot followed by Brasso Seco and Biche.
Brasso is the most active, she said, and was the first to develop a packaged product. The Brasso community has paid it forward, lending their assistance to training the Biche community to develop their own bars.
The Machel Montano Foundation for Greatness has been a key collaborator with the ARC, offering soft loans to assist communities to buy necessary equipment for the chocolate making process.
So far Biche has produced about 200 bars, most of which have been bought by the community.
Goddard said she saved a few to stock at stores such as Cascade Minimart and Arties Maraval where they already have a relationship.
“A relationship-based model is how every rational society functions, even though people are celebrating the product, it is the relationship that strengthens the product. The product is only the reflection of the relationships that are there. There are many communities that put relationships before product and that can make it difficult to in function in a product-oriented marketplace,” she said.
The Biche and Cushe bar retails for around $20 and is described as having a rich chocolaty tone.
“The bean is rich. It is a full bodied chocolate with mild fruity undertones, very delicious about 70 percent, “said Goddard.
In congratulating the community for its new product, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat thanked Goddard and her team, Machel Montano and team, and Courts.
In July, Courts (Unicomer) in collaboration with the Machel Montano Foundation for Greatness and ARC, launched a Cocoa Community Project to train and develop financially independent community-owned rural businesses in the production of chocolate.
The first three communities to receive their funding were Brasso Seco, Grand Riviere and Biche/Cushe areas.