What Origins Are Saying

Yellow Seed is fueled by your input.  Below are our favorite quotes* of the year from ‘Origins’  captured in Yellow Seed interviews and through our website feedback forms. Yellow Seed refers to an Origin as anyone growing, processing, selling or supporting the production or sale of a product, in the country of Origin. Our prototype begins with the cacao market.





“Our 5-year goal is to have more income and access to market.”

~ Small-scale cacao farmer, Peru, Interview.


“Our most pressing need is market access. We don’t know where to sell or who the buyer is. We also would like support with processing methods and learning better fermentation techniques.”

~ Owner of a 70 ha family cacao farm in Peru, Interview.


San Martin, Cooperative Peru

San Martin Cooperative, Peru


“Our main challenge is trying to connect our farm with clients in the US and globally. We don’t have a vehicle to make the connection ourselves, and we are forced to sell our cacao at a low price to local cacao manufactures like [Company in the Dominican Republic] or third parties that take it from our farm and distribute it.”

~ Owner of 3rd generation family-owned cacao farm in the Dominican Republic, Interview.


“Our challenges are very much the same that you hear of other producers; price, security of the market and our market position. Long-term relationships with buyers is key to our stability.”

~Director of a Farm Organization processing cacao in Belize, Interview.


Aproca, Ecuador

Aproca Cooperative, Ecuador


“When the farmers don’t sell the beans, the [high quality cacao] is thrown into the mix with the sanchez beans (unfermented) and sold for a low price. Our goal is to make connections to the outside world and to increase local farmers profits. We came back over [to the US] to reach out to local chocolatiers and provide samples.”

~Cacao Farm Owner, Interview.


“What I love most about my job is seeing how the cacao industry is growing to another level. We are seeing more and more communities getting involved in cacao. In 2011, we exported 5 MT and last year we were able to buy 42 MT and export a significant of that to the US. It is a very sustainable crop. It creates a friendly environment and keeps us in business.”

~Field Director and Co-Founder of Processing Business, Interview.


“Farmers are starting to see the benefit of cacao and seeing the market changing rapidly. For example, Quillabamba is heavily farmed with everything, corn, quinoa, potatoes and further in the valleys it is known for coffee. Now that region is also starting to plant cacao as alternative to coffee, per disease demand.”

~Cacao Farm Owner in Peru, Interview.



Tiny cacao pod!


“To maintain quality, there is a need for continual relationship building, capacity building and business development.”

~Cacao Farm Manager in Peru, Interview.


“I would like farmers to be paid a fair price and earn recognition for their hard labor, care, time, and preservation of crops like cacao and coffee. And for farmers to have a better understanding of the supply chain and final product.”

~ Agronomist from Peru, working in organic certification and sustainable agriculture, Website form.


Our biggest struggle is the logistics part. How do we handle logistics? The chocolate world is crazy. Middleman and middleman within the middleman. Our challenge is finding legitimate partners to work with.”

~ Director of a Cacao Processing Facility, Interview.


Drying Tunnel

Drying Tunnel


“A few larger players can pay for containers, but the little guys, people buying .5-2MT, no one can pay upfront for a container. So this brings up the question, how do we send 10 tons and get paid for it the moment the container leaves for export?  Large importers will pay all at once and will store it for you, but there is little transparency. The corporate types don’t fuss with details that the craft makers want; traceability, marked containers or all these little sacks broken up.”

~Farm Business Director in Honduras, Interview.


“I’d love to see more transparency, more market access for traditionally excluded farmers and more collaboration between buyers. For example, reaching export volumes by purchasing together as a block.”

~ PhD Student, Website form.


“The global economy can only metabolize ‘simple carbohydrates.’ How do we digest [products] and give them to people in a way that really supports the health of the planet and can be metabolized by global customers?

In order to have a purchasing decision that is truly regenerative, in most cases, you have to go in and change the system itself. System-wide change can’t be affected by a simple purchasing decision, it has to come from an investment into the community that changes some of the key issues individuals are dealing with so that that product is grown in a fundamentally different way and the relationship between the buyer and the producer is fundamentally different.”

~ Farm Cooperative Member, Regenerative Supply Chain Consultant, Interview.


Alejandrina Mamani Quispe, Peru

Alejandrina Mamani Quispe, Peru


Farming is an inherently risky enterprise. And in the tropics, farmers know that better than anywhere. What I continue to see often is the ‘silver bullet model –  let’s find this one thing that there is high demand for internationally and let’s just produce a lot of it.’  Everyone gets excited about it and there is a gold rush feeling, but almost always, we see it bottoms out before it gets anywhere. So, farmers are encouraged to try new crops without any real guarantees in place. They invest their own time, their own energy and in some cases their own money to plant something where there was no existing market, really. To me, from a business and social perspective, obviously this does not function. Ultimately, that the ones who are really taking on the most risk in the market, are not the NGOs nor the government, but the farmers themselves.

Also, a farmer can be about to harvest your crop and there is a record river rise like there was this year, and you can lose your crop before harvesting it. So agriculture is already inherently very risky and to ask farmers to take on more risk beyond that  to sort of experiment with new products that don’t yet have proven markets just feels very irresponsible to me.”

~Executive Director, Agroforestry NGO, Interview


“The single-directive approach of how to reach markets does two things: (1) it takes process and decision making of the means of how to “reach markets” out of the hands of the farmers and (2) the responsibility now lies in the hands of NGOs, policy makers or buyers who are working with the farmer. As options for understanding how to solve problems are reduced, a level of dependency develops. Individuals in the group have only learned one way to solve a problem.”

~ NGO Program Director, Interview.


Maranura Cooperative, Peru

Maranura Cooperative, Peru


I believe that providing small-scale, rural farmers with access to fair and stable trade markets is key to helping small villages develop from the ground up. Not only does direct trade connect these rural farmers with strong markets and fair prices, but it also builds relationships. As a result, it allows for the education of small-scale farmers on how to make their livelihoods more sustainable, both in terms of environmentalism and longevity. Sustainable development is not just giving communities access to income, but also access to knowledge and resources. Without those components, it is unlikely a community can be brought out of poverty and find successful economic growth.”

~Program Recruiter, Agriculture and Food Security, Website form.


“I would love to see the consumer making more conscious decisions about what they buy. In general, people only have a vague idea of what goes into their purchases. Then, even if people would like to buy goods that support sustainable and fair practices, it depends first on their own income. Caring about the life of a farmer or the environment shouldn’t have to be a ‘normal good’. In a different but connected idea, I would also like things like ‘specialty chocolate’ to go past the niche market of San Francisco’s relative elite. It is so much better than what can be found in the supermarkets! It is a shame much of suburbia misses out on the good stuff.”

~ Volunteer and University Student, Website form.


* Note: Quotes represent our most accurate description of what we transcribed at the time. We did not include names for privacy.

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