Harish Manoj Kumar is the head farmer for Regal Chocolates where they grow cacao in southern India. In this interview, Harish tells us his story of beginning to grow cacao and learning how to greatly improve his family farm’s biological health and the quality of cacao they produce. Amelonado varietals of cacao have long been associated with cheap and poor quality beans, but there has been amazing progress in their quality when the trees and fruit and seeds are treated well, and Regal Chocolates has found beautiful flavors with amelonado beans along with Trinitario and Criollo. The Solstice India bar uses Harish’s beans, and that bar just won the Northwest Chocolate Festival’s Gold Award for Dark Chocolate Bars!
Harish tells stories of the wildlife which threaten his farms; reducing pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals his farms use; improving yields of his various crops though symbiosis rather than chemicals and more. Harish has had to learn so much through asking people, receiving painful feedback, and trial and error, but his quick (relatively speaking!) progress manifests his commitment and intelligent discoveries. Not just anyone can go from zero to world-class in cacao growing in a decade!