IAF maintains a database of properties available for acquisition by its clients. Properties are identified based on crop suitability, soil quality, drainage, external and internal road access, connection to the electric grid, and water, among other factors. The company utilizes its own knowledge of land owners and collaborates with local land scouts to identify prospects. Additionally, IAF typically works with topographers, cartographers and lawyers to review land title and potential encumbrances or other liabilities. IAF is familiar with many existing timber and farm operations across Guatemala and can engage in valuation exercises and negotiations on behalf of clients.
- Land preparation. Weed clearance by mechanical or chemical means. Tilling. Establishment of ground covers.
- Planting of seedlings with mixture of soil amendments and fertilizers. Zeolite, biochar, mycorrhizal inoculation, worm compost, and phosphoric rock are examples of organic methods used to enhance soil texture, microbiome, and micro- and macro-nutrient availability.
- Pruning and thinning. Pruning of fruit trees is important in stimulating flowering, maintaining manageable orchard height and density, and adequate ventilation. The pruning and thinning of timber are important in stimulating both tree height and diameter. Certain pruning processes can be mechanized while others require skilled manual labor.
- Phyto-sanitation. IAF expertise in organic, conventional and integrated pest management systems. Discussion with investors to balance cost, efficacy and certification premiums. Examples of natural pesticides include neem, madre de cacao (Gliricidia sepium), and molasses.
- Harvest and post-harvest. Each crop has its own requirements in terms of harvest and post-harvest. Cacao requires sophisticated knowledge around the fermentation and drying. Timber harvest includes phyo-sanitary thinning, directional felling.
- Cultivars collected and employed. IAF has collected dozens of cacao cultivars, which have been established in germplasm banks. The majority of the commercial cultivars have been researched and recommended by prominent research institutions, including CATIE and FHIA. The company has a proprietary collection of genetics, primarily from Guatemala but with selections from such locales as Mexico, Venezuela, the Pacific Islands and Costa Rica. Although the traditional grouping of cacao into Criollo, Trinitario and Forestero is no longer considered valid, very little testing has been performed on cacao genetics and terms such as “Criollo” and “Acriollado” continue to be used to describe certain organoleptic and physiological characteristics. Several of the rare white and variegated bean cultivars were found adjacent to Mayan archaeological sites, suggesting a genealogy traceable to the Maya’s original cultivation and selection of white bean cultivars.
- Native timbers. Honduran Rosewood (Dalbergia stevensonii), big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla). IAF in the process of obtaining certification of several of its seed sources from Guatemala’s National Forest Institute.
- Third party nurseries. IAF regularly assists clients with the procurement of genetics from reputable nurseries and seed purveyors.
- Forest and farm management planning. Financial and operation plans.
- IAF possesses a network of contractors who can be engaged for road, bridge, drainage and other earthworks. The company also works with carpenters, architects and providers of building materials, on and off-grid electric components, and plumbing systems to ensure an appropriate balance of cost and quality.
- Market insights. Research on market trends affecting supply and demand, certification, value-added, etc.
- Marketing and sales.