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The history of the

Ratzum Cacao Network

Ratzum Cacao Network, (Cacao Flower Network), is the agricultural production network of 65 Q'eqchi' families woven by Tuqtuquilal in four communities (San Juan Chivite, Chicanchiu, Saquija' and Chivail) in the Lanquín - Cahabón corridor in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Tuqtuquilal facilitates the network with the objective of supporting the well-being of the community through the establishment of mutually beneficial economic, social and cultural relationships. 

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Who are we?

Tuqtuquilal offers a gathering space to empower economically, and through healing and regeneration. The Center's relationships of deep trust, economic exchange, and co-education with a network of 65 Q'eqchi' family cacao farmers is the confluence of the Center's rich flows of financial, natural, social, and spiritual capital. By uniting the cultivation, purchasing, processing and sale of value-added products and regeneratively sourced organic cacao of the highest quality with educational spaces for personal, cultural and ecological healing for its family network and international visitors, Tuqtuquilal has created an impactful, resilient and profitable business model.

Impact

Our achievement in this year 2024 was to buy cacao with pulp from farming families at Q5.25/lb. We see daily the real need of families to obtain fair prices for their cacao, this target price goes beyond the quality and quantity of cacao that Tuqtuquilal receives from the families. This amount truly represents nationally and internationally the value of the field work they carry out, the families in their personal productive plots, the value that the cacao bean represents for families in their daily life and their worldview, the artisanal processes that we carry out in Tuqtuquilal, the educational processes that we share and co-create in the Ratzum Cacao Network. 

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Encounters

Community construction, education, cultural restoration, sanation, capacity development 

Tuqtuquilal includes the entire family unit, not just those in charge of farming in the family. This means that the monthly day-long network meetings and workshops often feel more like a big party than a business meeting or conference, with kids of all ages running around, a midday party, and often a few attempts to dance and sing. 

 

While adults participate in conversations and workshops, often with babies and toddlers on their laps, older children participate in their own activities, workshops and classes designed to create thematic continuity with what the adults are discussing or learning. 

Topics Embarked in the Monthly Meetings

  • Environmental pollution

  • Food Sovereignty

  • Pruning and Maintenance of Fruit Trees

  • Organic Composting Methods

  • Natural Bioinputs

  • Emotions and Mental Health

  • Biodiversity in Crops

  • Family Economy

  • Agreements and Community Consensus

  • Mayan Cosmovision

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Consensus Agreements and Commitments

Assumed by cacao producing families

  • Do not pour water into the bags of cocoa pulp (to artificially increase the weight) 

  • No cacao pulp from damaged, moldy or insect-infested cacao pods 

  • Sell high quality cacao

  • One or more members of the families attend the monthly meetings and educational activities that take place in the communities. 

  • We harvest the cacao at the appropriate maturity 

  • Cacao pods must be harvested from the trees 1 day before the day of purchase

  • Cacao pods are not opened the day before the day of purchase 

 

Assumed by Tuqtuquilal

  • Work so that the price of cacao in baba is fair for farming families 

  • Manage and coordinate spaces for the exchange of knowledge and skills through meetings and other activities carried out in the communities.

  • Work closely with the network to create a predetermined purchasing schedule that can provide families with certainty about volume and frequency based on their needs.

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Family agricultural practices

Families in the network grow cocoa on the plots of land and forests around their homes, using traditional farming methods including organic composting, tree pruning, replanting and multiple cropping. Most families are also growing spices (cardamom, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper) on their plots and various products for self-consumption. Planting and harvesting are often aligned with lunar cycles and the Mayan calendar.  

 

The cacao productive plots that the producing families have designed are an agroforestry system that integrates the symbiosis of multiple plants that interrelate with each other from their different strata (soil-plant-environment). A cacao plot provides multiple ecosystem services that families, animal diversity and the environment can take advantage of.  The diversity present in the cacao plots is magical, each cacao plot has its own design and identity.  Among the plants that we can see within the cacao plots are: cacao (as the main crop), mother cocoa, plantain, banana, kala, cardamom, black pepper, vanilla, mahogany, cedar, copal, among other timber trees, fruit trees and medicinal plants.

Image by Wengang Zhai

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