Bachelor's Hall Estate, Saint Thomas, Jamaica - Desmond Jadusingh
Situated below the Blue Mountains of the St Thomas Parish on the south eastern end of Jamaica, Bachelor’s Hall Estate is owned and farmed by Desmond Jadusingh.
Desmond’s grandfather purchased Bachelor’s Hall from the Englishman Major Ali in the 1960s. With coconuts, bananas, sugar cane and some cocoa established, he transformed the property into a thriving 500-acre estate before his untimely death forced its sale to the Jamaican government in the 1980s.
As one of the top producing coconut farms in Jamaica the government recognised the fertile terroir; a result of rich soil, natural springs and the four small rivers that run through the property. They expanded the cocoa plantation to 300 acres introducing predominantly the Trinitario variety of bean to grow alongside the already present Criollo and Forastero varieties.
As cocoa production grew and with the vitally important fermentation and drying stages being undertaken by the central Jamaican Cocoa Board, the government sold Bachelor’s Hall to the private company Jamaica Flour Mills in the 1990s. Following the take over of Jamaica Flour Mills by a large multi-national and the subsequent divesting, Desmond seized the opportunity to buy back the estate and return it to Jadusingh ownership in 2002.
Involved in farming since leaving school, Desmond continued to grow cocoa, selling the wet beans by the bucket to the Jamaican Cocoa Board who would collect the crop directly from the farm gate, often three or four days post harvest. In 2004 disaster struck, a tropical hurricane devastated the estate, destroying the infrastructure and damaging the cocoa plantation. The harsh reality of not having the funds to re-establish the farm dawned on Desmond; a legacy of being underpaid for his crops for so long. Determined to not loose the farm he took the bold decision to take control of the post harvest process of his cocoa in an effort to achieve a higher price for the crop.
With assistance from USAID and by selling lumber from the estate, Desmond began the journey of understanding what is required to undertake cocoa fermentation and drying. Employing a method which Desmond describes as ’40 per cent textbook, 40 per cent experimentation and 20 per cent sheer luck’ he was soon producing his own finished cocoa beans ready for shipping to chocolate makers.
Faced with resistance from the Jamaica Cocoa Board, Desmond took the decision to send his dried cocoa beans to the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) and in particular the International Fine Flavour Committee for testing. The results that came back were overwhelmingly positive; Desmond’s beans were classified as fine and flavour cocoa. He had proven that he could carry out the post harvest process to a standard that was acceptable to the Jamaica Cocoa Board and they would now allow him to sell his fermented and dried beans directly.
Spurred on by this success and with the aim of resuscitating the cocoa industry in Jamaica, Desmond became the founding member of the Jamaica Cocoa Farmer’s Association. He very much hopes that other cocoa farmers in Jamaica follow his lead and start to directly sell the best quality, farm traceable cocoa beans. Bachelor’s Hall Estate remains the only Jamaican farm to do this to date.
We make the following bar using solely Demond's Bachelor's Hall Estate beans :