Theobroma cacao is the Latin scientific name given to the cacao trees that were born in the tropical region of deep America. The difference between cacao & cocoa, is that, cacao refers to the beans. Cocoa is the product that is produced from it. Seventy percenr (70%) of the world’s cocoa beans come from four countries in West Africa, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.
Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the two largest producers of cocoa, together the produce more than half of the world’s cocoa. These two are followed by other cocoa producing countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil and Ecuador. In Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, 90% of farmers depend on cocoa for their primary income. Cacao production is the main source of income for 40-50 million farmers, who are agricultural workers and their families.
Requirements to Grow or Plant Cocoa
Good selection of seeds
Seedlings are used for planting. They are grown in nurseries, where there is stipulated shade protection against wind, nutrition and irrigation are all provided. Hybrid seeds are usually purchased commercially, but even with these plants they can be greatly variable in growth and yield. Seeds collected from mature pods, and when fresh grains are planted immediately, should be at least 90% germinate within two weeks. Planting seeds in the soil are not practiced for lack of watering and problems with weeds and pests.
Right environmental conditions
The annual precipitation distribution for regions where cocoa is grown is 1250 to 3000 mm annually. The precipitate must be well distributed and each dry period should not be more than three months. Annual rainfall over 2,500 mm can lead to a higher incidence of fungal diseases. Irrigation is used very little and there is little information on the cultivation of cocoa under irrigation conditions.
Because cocoa is not generally grown in hurricane-prone areas, its vulnerability to strong winds is not known, although the experience of some cyclones suggests that the tree is easily destroyed by strong winds. Fallen trees are not plucked can regrow.
Cocoa trees grow only in the areas where it is hot and humid all year round. The cacao trees do need humidity to grow well. The ideal temperature for cocoa is at least 18 to 21 ° C and maximum values of 30 to 32 ° C. Commercial cocoa production is limited, where the minimum average is greater than approximately 13 ° C in colder months. If the absolute minimum temperature for several consecutive nights below 10 ° C reduces, growth is likely to be reduced.
Cocoa is grown on a wide range of soil types, but soils from moderate to high fertility, it is preferred. Also use of fertilizer is not common in traditional production systems. The main requirements are:
Free draining soil of about 1.5 m deep
Good quality water holding capacity
PH range of 4.5 to 7.0, preferably about 6.5.
Shadows should be well prepared before planting in the field. In addition the shade provides protection from direct sunlight and wind and provides a suitable microclimate.
Amsterdam is the main port of cacao in the world with 500 000 to 600 000 tonnes of cocoa per day through the port
Cocoa husks in grain are used as organic fertilizer. The mulch is what people put around the trees and flower beds to prevent weed growth.
Each level of cocoa production is done by hand, from planting, irrigation, harvesting, fermentation and drying.
Cocoa bean oil which is extracted before being grilled, is called cocoa butter. It is used to make chocolate and many other foods
It takes 3 to 5 years before the cocoa tree produces fruit. Each tree produces about 1,000 grains per year, but that’s just enough to make 1 kg of chocolate.
Why is Cocoa Expensive
Very few countries grow and produce cocoa and this is due to climatic conditions that are only available in those countries hence cocoa is a limited resource.
Every stage of Cocoa production is done by hand with the exception of the final product, hence this means one will have to employee a large number of workers to work on a Cocoa plantation and in order to be able to pay them the product price has to be higher to give better return. Just think of it as a blessing to be able to afford it. The prices you see high, just remember that there are countless number of innocent children who are forced to work in these Cocoa plantations and are not even paid and if they are paid they only get a fraction of what they deserve.
90% of farmers who grow Cocoa they do not grow it in large quantity, most only grow Cocoa for small family uses and only sell it if they need money for something else. This contributes to high pricing of Cocoa products such as chocolate as only 5% of famers are said to seriously do Cocoa farming for commercialization.
Cocoa tree lives for over 200 years but only will produces Cocoa fruit 25 times through its entire life. This also leads to scarcity of the product which results to high pricing. Basic rules of business apply high (when demand is high than production prices go up).
Despite its yielding benefits if you grow Cocoa many farmer shy from doing so due to its long maturity period of between 3 to 5 years. No farmer will be certain that after such a long time they will be able to recover and in addition every farmer wants to make cash as fast as possible so as to meet up his/her daily needs.
Just imagine that 3 trees produces a thousand grains which can only make 1 kg of Cocoa, this seems like a joke but it is true, and this is a major factor to its high pricing. I kg from 3 threes that i s like almost what one person in U.K consumes in 1- 2 days.