Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fazenda Tozan

[LAIST Tour Begins, Fazenda Tozan, Churrascaria – Nova Pampa, Port of Santos, Deloitte, Embraer, Natura, Gol de Letra, Bom Bril, Agencia Click, Nextel Institute, May 6, Rio, Rio Weekend, Petrobras, PREVI]

Tozan Farm (Fazenda Tozan) was established before the independence of Brazil in 198. The name comes from “To” meaning East and “Zan” meaning mountain, an allusion to Tai Zan mountain, and was a pseudonym for Hisaya Iwasaki, of the Iwasaki family – founder of the Mitsubishi Group.

The farm first belonged to Floriano de Camargo Peneado and originally only grew sugar cane, the first major crop of Brazil. His son, Caitan-Mor Floriano de Camargo Peneado took over the farm in 1854 and diversified the crops to include corn, rice and finally coffee. In 1885, the farm intensified its coffee growth. However, 1925 saw the “super growth” of coffee, dramatically increasing the supply of coffee much faster than demand, causing the price of coffee to plummet.

In 1927, the Iwasaki family, wanting to diversify their financial holdings in anticipation of financial “stress” (as it manifested in 1929 in New York), bought a large number of farms around the world including Tozan Farm. After purchasing these farms, they used their economies of scale to leverage technologies from different areas (for example, the “Vespa de Uganda”, a technology used to fight coffee “plague” affecting the plants). They also further diversified their farm holdings to include cotton, cereals, “practical reforestation” and Nelore cattle.

Since arriving in Sao Paolo, the popularity of coffee increased as it started following the coastal border of Brazil. Today, 65% of the coffee in Brazil is Arabica (sweeter) and the rest is Robusta (stronger).

The history of coffee itself is quite interestingly international as well. Originally discovered by an Ethiopian Sheppard from the city Cafa, he noticed that his sheep strangely “acted more aggressively” when they had eaten the fruit of a particular plant. Coffee then began to spread from that region and found its way to the Muslim world where the Arab’s were the first to roast the coffee beans and prepare coffee in the manner which we recognize it today (originally the beans were taken for their sweet juice). The Dutch, famous navigators, introduced coffee to Europe through Venice, where the first coffee shop was opened (and we are told is still there).

Peiro was translating for our guide, who didn’t speak any English, however, there are somethings for which you don’t need a translator. His passion for coffee was quite apparent as he was animatedly speaking Portuguese while gesturing to the various devices and machines used in the past for the harvest and preparation of different varieties and grades of coffee beans.

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