Five of the microlots in our 2017 Trinidad container (Tabaquite, Chattergoon Estate, Biche, Rio Claro, and Cedros) were fermented, dried, and packed at the Tabaquite Fermentary, a small operation in Tabaquite Village run by Harryman Chattergoon and his family. Harryman has been running his fermentary since 2002, when he was one of five recipients of a Fermentary Licence from Trinidad’s Cocoa & Coffee Industry Board. His operation is steadily growing as he is one of the only fermentaries on the interior of the island that is doing quality fermentation and drying. He accepts wet and dry beans, and his facility has cascading fermentation boxes and mechanical driers.
Geographically, Tabaquite is right in the center of Trinidad. The village was formed by cocoa planters in the late 1800s, in an effort to populate the interior of the island and distance themselves from sugar planters, who owned much of the coastal areas on the more developed western side of Trinidad. It is alleged that the cocoa industry was forced to find new areas because the sugar planters saw the growing cocoa industry as a threat and made a bid to keep the cocoa growers out. One group of cocoa planters seemed to favor the Montserrat district, and set up a number of estates and living areas for their agricultural workers.
Because of its interior location, transport was extremely difficult into and out of Tabaquite and its neighbouring villages. Cocoa-laden mules had to walk nearly 12 miles to get to the nearest collection center for purchased cocoa in Couva. The sugar planters, having occupied the coastal areas, had all the access to shipping ports. This caused a storm of protest from the cocoa planters, particularly those deeply affected in areas like Tabaquite. They levelled accusations against the government for favouring the sugar planters, and demanded similar facilities or else their heavy investments would fail and their operations would be ruined because of no transport. Interestingly enough, in that time, influential planter-families (the de Verteuils, Agostinis and D’Abadies) began to occupy the region and perhaps this helped to influence the government’s attention to the cocoa producers’ plight. In the mid 1890s the government agreed to build the railway line to Tabaquite, and by 1898 the line reached Tabaquite.