Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 25th 2016 Contents A9
Thursday, February 25, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Up the forested Corosal Road in the
Montserrat Hills of Gran Couva, around
a sharp bend and behind two huge mango
trees is a cocoa estate described as cen-
Surrounded by ancient immortelles, cov-
ered in bright orange blossoms, is the five-
acre Santiago Estate whose cocoa trees are
more than five decades old and still pro-
ducing some of the world s most prized
Angela Tang Howad, "65-plus", a former
cashier who now owns this estate, refuses
to let her age be a hindrance to her as she
putters around between the trees in her
straw hat, tall boots and a cutlass on her
She prunes a bit here and there while
chickens peck among dry leaves on the
ground. The estate is so silent the loudest
sound is that of the wind rushing gently
through the trees as if whispering tales of
times long gone.
Humming Birds flit between shrubs and
woodpeckers, parrots, cornbirds, yellow tail
birds and semps break the quietness.
It s the picking season but Howad and
her brother, Peter, and their labourers have
to wait until the green pods on the trees
ripen for another harvest.
Last week, they picked cocoa, cracked
them, filled buckets with the beans and
dropped them off to the San Antonio Estate
a few miles away.
The Montserrat Cocoa Farmers Co-oper-
ative is located there and has a central fer-
mentor for the area s farmers. Howad is a
member of the co-operative s board.
Her beans and those of other Montserrat
farmers are fermented, sun dried in a cocoa
house and danced, all in the traditional way,
which contribute to their uniqueness.
Howad s single domain cocoa grown on
the special Montserrat clay are searched out
by the world s finest chocolatiers.
"Our beans are known for their fruity,
floral taste and are used to flavour cocoa
from other parts of the world."
Her cocoa is bought by Valrhona, a 1922
premium French chocolatier who also produces a
chocolate called Gran Couva.
Swiss chocolatier, Laderach, also buys Howad s
cocoa beans to make its chocolates and a Japanese
broker purchases them to sell them to buyers in Japan.
Reliable foreign exchange earner
Howad, formerly of Gasparillo, lives at Preysal,
some five or six miles away, and drives to Gran Couva
almost daily to help Peter, who stays there and runs
the estate. Her husband is deceased.
"I supervise and do little odds and ends. I do a
little pruning, cut a bunch of fig, help pick, heap and
Howad said she loves the quiet, relaxing atmosphere
on Santiago Estate and believes the fresh air and
activity help keep her healthy. "I enjoy coming here."
As for her energy? "I keep trusting in the Lord.
I ask Him for the grace to function."
She recounted how prudent planning and vision
led her to own a cocoa estate.
"I used to work at Imperial Stores in San Fernando
(established during the colonial era) which were run
by the Montanos.
"They also owned San Salvador Estate which they
had bought from the previous owner.
"When I was promoted from cashier to secretary
to assistant property manager, I used to come here
and walk through the estate with the overseer to
check on it," she says.
When the Montanos decided to cut up San Salvador
Estate and sell it out about 20 years ago, Howad
bought a five-acre plot.
"I said when I retire I will have a place to come
to where I can work and relax. The plot was already
under cocoa cultivation and I already knew about
it," she said.
She s passionate about the estate.
"It s exciting to see the fruit of your labour. We
try to produce a good bean. We had a ten per cent
increase in production because we are doing chip
grafting of new varieties on the old trees."
Howad said cocoa remained a reliable foreign
exchange earner. "There is always a demand for our
cocoa. Foreigners are always coming to visit us up
here. When you have no oil, cocoa is always there."
Howad urged the Government to place more
emphasis on cocoa cultivation and said work gangs
could be employed on estates.
"Cocoa should be king once more," she said.
From cashier to world class cocoa farmer
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