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Published on 11/19/2015
Cocoa Farms Open their Doors to Visitors in Ilhéus
07/12/2018 - 11h37
FLÁVIA G. PINHO
A totem in the form of a chocolate bar on highway BA-262 marks the beginning of a new tourist route: the Chocolate Highway, a highway in the State of Bahia that connects Ilhéus to Uruçuca.
The launching is set for the 18th of July, the opening of the 10th International Chocolate e Cocoa Festival which is held annually.
Currently, 20 properties are set to be opened to tourists. The goal is for the circuit to include as many as 50 participating farms.
|Caio Ferrari / Folhapress|
Sebrae provided consulting to the farmers and personnel capacitation services, according to Marco Lessa, the festival organizer and spokesperson for the route.
The State Government invested R$ 400 thousand (US$ 103 thousand). Resources were invested in highway signage and the creation of a site (estradadochocolate.com.br/site) and an app.
The goal is to attract partners from the private sector to improve access to farms that are farther removed and to provide cellular phone coverage in the region.
|Pods at various stages of ripening|
Tourism could be an alternative for saving the city's economy which collapsed in the decade of the 90's after local farms had been decimated by the Vassoura-de-Bruxa (Witch-Broom) plague.
Since then, some producers have been able to recuperate their crop cultivation and are successfully marketing fine cocoa, which is ideal for the production of special chocolates. But recuperation and growth have been slow.
Centuries-old Grand Houses, some of which have been featured in films and tele-novellas, can be visited inside. In some of them, tourists can sample typical dishes from the region.
Tourists will be able to watch the harvesting and, in the middle of the forest, to drink cocoa honey, which flows from the pulp of the fruit, as well as follow the steps of chocolate production and try out the finished product.
|Farm Capela Velha, in Ilhéus|
The cocoa trees are planted among the native trees, so walking about is in the natural wilderness. This planting method guarantees appropriate levels of humidity and shade for the cocoa trees and contributes to the preservation of the Atlantic Forest.
Translated by LLOYD HARDER