Cocoa Growing Countries
Cocoa powder and chocolate are made from the dried seeds that are found in pods on the cacao tree. In the 18th century the Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus, renamed the cocoa tree giving it the Greek name Theobroma Cacao, now its official botanical name, which literally means 'food of the Gods.' Although a native of the Main Cocoa Growing Countries Amazon basin and other tropical areas of South and Central America, where wild varieties still grow in the forests, the cocoa growing area has extended to the Caribbean and beyond. Different types of cocoa are selected for cultivation in the various growing areas. Most of the world's cocoa is grown in a narrow belt 10 degrees either side of the Equator because the trees grow well in humid tropical climates with regular rains and a short dry season. Even temperatures between 21 and 23 degrees centigrade, with a fairly constant rainfall of 1,000 to 2,500 mm per year, are needed without hot dry winds and drought. Many countries now grow cocoa but the main producers are • • • West Africa - Ghana which grows some of the best quality cocoa in the world, Nigeria and Cote D'Ivoire South America - Brazil and Ecuador Asia - Malaysia and Indonesia, where cocoa is a relatively new crop, are becoming increasingly important growing areas.
Cocoa was first planted in Ghana, now a major producer, in 1879 and as in the rest of West Africa, cocoa is grown almost entirely on smallholdings where the whole family works together. Cocoa farming is a small, unsophisticated business as the current planting patterns of cocoa trees make mechanisation impractical. In Asia, public and private plantations have been developed as well as the small farms. Drawing of Cocoa Pods.
COCOA AND CHOCOLATE
Types of Cocoa
There are three broad types of cocoa FORASTERO and CRILLO plus TRINITARIO which is a hybrid of Forastero and Crillo. Within these types are several varieties. FORASTERO, which now forms the greater part of all cocoa grown, is hardy and vigorous producing beans with the strongest flavour. AMELONADO is the Forastero variety most widely grown in West Africa and Brazil. It has a smooth yellow pod with 30 or more pale to deep purple beans. CRILLO with its mild or weak chocolate flavour is grown in Indonesia, Central and South America. Crillo trees are not as hardy and they produce softer pods which are red in colour, containing 20-30 white, ivory or very pale purple beans. TRINITARIO plants are not found in the wild as they are cultivated hybrids of the other two types. Trinitario cocoa trees are grown mainly in the Caribbean area but also in Cameroon and Papua New Guinea. The mostly hard pods are variable in colour and they contain 30 or more beans of variable colour but white beans are rare. Cocoa trees resemble English apple trees, seldom reaching more than 7.5 metres (25 feet) high and they are carefully pruned so that pods can be more easily harvested To flourish they need to be shaded from direct sun and wind particularly in the early stages of growth. Two methods are used to establish cocoa trees: • Cocoa Pods
Young trees are interspersed with new permanent or temporary shade trees such as coconut, plantains and bananas, following the clear-felling of the forest. In Asia where large plantations have been developed, cocoa trees and coconut trees are planted together and both crops are harvested commercially. Alternatively forest trees are thinned out and the cocoa trees are planted between established trees.
Cocoa trees begin to bear fruit when they are 3-4 years old. The pink and white flowers, then the pods grow straight out of the trunk and main branches which is most unusual. Like most tropical plants, flowers are present throughout the year but appear in abundance before the rain starts. Only a small proportion of all the flowers develop into fruit over a period of about five months. Each tree will yield 20-30 pods per year and...