March 5, 2012

Cocoa Trail Excursion Provides Ecological Component to Program Activities

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InteRDom has partnered with Hacienda La Esmeralda García Jiménez in San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic to provide interns with a cultural excursion entitled “Cocoa Trail,” to invigorate the itinerary of activities and excursions that complement student internship and academic programs.

Students begin the tour by planting their own cacao trees, and then enter the cocoa forest, where they are taught about the harvesting, cutting and seed extraction processes.  The tour then moves onto the fermentation and drying methods, which determine the quality and flavor of the chocolate. 

The weather and ecosystem in the central region of the Dominican Republic is perfect for growing cocoa, which contributes to its status as one of the country’s leading exports. On the Cocoa Trail tour, students are guided by experts through the whole process of organic chocolate-making, from the sowing of seeds all the way through to the packaging of the final product.

After suiting up in hygienic gear, the tour enters La Esmeralda chocolate factory, where students participate in the chocolate-making process and have the opportunity to sample the product.  They then partake in a healthy buffet-style lunch made from locally-grown produce and poultry and enjoy the entertainment provided by the staff of the ranch.

Hacienda La Esmeralda is an organic cocoa farm in the agriculture-rich heartland of the Dominican Republic that has been producing and processing cocoa since 1965, making it one of the pioneers in the cocoa industry.  The tour is careful to explain both more primitive and modern chocolate-making techniques, so that students can see the evolution of the industry, particular to the Dominican context.  The Cocoa Trail tour adds an ecological and sustainable agriculture component to the list of excursions provided to interns of all programs.

The internship program, InteRDom, an initiative of Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FUNGLODE), is the premier internship, research and academic study program in the Dominican Republic. It offers international students the opportunity to research important topics at the forefront of the United Nations agenda, obtain professional experience by interning with Dominican organizations and businesses related to their fields of study and/or earn academic credits by taking courses and seminars at a local university.