Etienne Crane (77 years old), eldest son of Man Lisa, is the head of a farm of 4.5 ha of arabica coffee plantation. A kilo of this coffee improves 20 kg of coffee.
Etienne Crane is President of the Intercommunal Syndicate Saint-Claude, Baillif, Basse Terre and the Association Syndicale d’Irrigation de Saint-Louis (ASISL) which captures water from the Saint-Louis River and redistributes it through a network 40 km of pipeline, 7 of which are owned by the union. 800-1000 liters of water is needed to meet the region’s drinking water and irrigation needs. The flow sometimes falls to 200 liters, which forces to plan and regulate the distribution.
Etienne Crane is one of the initiators of the melon culture in Guadeloupe. Its first production trials of melons for export were carried out in 1981 and 1982 in collaboration with Sica Rennaise. In 1984, a collaboration between MM. Crane, Boyer and Fabre set up to produce and export melon produced with the Guadeloupe label in off-season, ie from January to May. From 1986, the know-how is set up with rigorous specifications. In 1988, E. Crane became the first large-scale producer of Guadeloupe melon.
The Man Lisa coffee, which is made from coffee trees descended from the very first shrubs that were planted in Sainte-Anne in 1721, is 100% Arabica. Indeed, it is in 1721, that after multiplication of the plants in the Botanical Garden of Paris, the captain of infantry Gabriel de Clieu, installed in the Antilles, carries two feet of Bourbon Pointu resulting from a shrub offered a few years earlier to the King of France by the Mayor of Amsterdam. The arrival of coffee in Guadeloupe is a great success. The Arabica plantations are spreading rapidly there as well as on the other islands, giving birth to great wines such as the Blue Mountain of Jamaica or the Yauco Selecto of Puerto Rico. In Guadeloupe, important plantations settle from Basse-Terre to Petit-Bourg. But it is the Côte-sous-le-Vent, steep and protected, which proves to be the privileged place of coffee culture.
The production of coffee in Guadeloupe reached 4000 tons in 1790. Unfortunately, the right of entry set up by Napoleon with the consular decree of July 22, 1802, then a lightning disease in 1820, push the planters to resell their lands and lead the decline of French colonial coffee. Coffee gives way to sugar cane and Guadeloupean production collapses, up to 116 tons in 1862, under Napoleon III. In the twentieth century, between the two world wars, the tonnages go back a little, up to 1,200 tons in 1920, before falling again definitively. Since then, Guadeloupe was artisanally roasting its meager production, which it mixed with imported coffees and sold on its market. The coffee of the French West Indies seemed to have lived. However, in recent years, we are witnessing the revival of coffee on the island. Production is currently about thirty tons mainly for the external market. Thanks to the support of the State and the regrouping of small planters, the coffee farms reappear and the cultures now extend over 150 hectares. With a yield per hectare of 600 kilos, Guadeloupe would have a development potential of 90,000 tons over the next five years. The high costs involved in this labor-intensive crop do not allow it to match coffee from Brazil, Ethiopia or Colombia in terms of price, but the quality of this Bourbon Pointu gives it a place of choice among the luxury grands crus. The strengths of Guadeloupe coffee are rare and exceptional: its growth on a volcanic soil, the age and quality of its strains, the cultivation methods that are lavished on it such as growth in the shade of banana trees, etc. In recent years, several historic coffee plantations have been restored and put back into operation in the Basse-Terre region.
Coffee is France’s second largest import product behind oil. About 300 000 tonnes of coffee are consumed per year. The coffee of Guadeloupe has therefore a market all found.
Arabica coffee has 44 chromosomes unlike the others which have only 21. The harvest is from June to December, with 3 to 4 pickings per season. Coffee growth lasts six months, from flowering to picking. 30 tons of cherries gives 6 tons of parchment coffee and 4 tons of coffee sold. 90% of the cherry coffee goes into evaporation or waste. Once harvested, the cherries undergo a fermentation of 12 to 15 hours, a draining, a drying for 35 hours on a terrace, then a conservation of one year. It is then the peeling, which leads to the green coffee, then the sorting to eliminate the black grains. Electronic sorters exist but are too expensive. In addition, they cause a loss too important. Roasting, the next step, brings green coffee to 180 ° C, eliminating 24% water (compared to 19% for less demanding producers). This is a very delicate operation that must be monitored at the split-second time to avoid the risk of burning grains. The quality of coffee is roasting. The roasted coffee is allowed to rest 48 hours before grinding and bagging.
A worker collects an average of 30 kg of cherry coffee over a 7-hour day, and comes back to around 100 euros each day. In South America and the rest of the Caribbean, this same worker returns to 0.80 euros for a day of 9 hours. If we want to maintain local coffee production, we should introduce levies on imported coffee and create an equalization fund to help sustain local production.
Etienne Crane also produces oranges (80 t), clementines (100 t), avocados and vanilla.
For E. Crane, the territory must be developed by developing local resources. It is necessary to value the local to enter the global. Globalization has created unemployment in the north and increased the number of people living on less than a dollar a day in the south, destroying natural resources, giving power to the financiers and removing the means for people to self-determination. Faced with this observation, it is necessary to question the fundamentalists of commercial openness who know only the religion of free trade, to practice a modern protectionism, and to put in honor the assets and values of the territory. Why buy an imported product that costs several tons of fuel to be produced and transported and whose origin is unknown? It is best to consume a local product that knows where and how it was produced. We consume what we do not produce and we produce what we do not consume (banana, cane). We must learn to produce differently. Small-scale polyculture is preferable because it reduces the risk of disease. We tend to look back at the past when we must become aware of our strengths and values and oppose cultural imports that are destructive of our local heritage. Grants destroy local know-how with rules that kill innovation and initiative. The estate of Etienne Crane is in the center of a territory, the Saint Louis and Saint Robert mountains, having 300 years of cultural and cultural know-how. From this point of view, he is a model for Guadeloupe.