Step 1

Growing Cocoa Trees

Cocoa is usually grown by smallholder farmers on farms averaging 2 to 4 hectares in size. It is found in hot and humid regions, mostly in West Africa (Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana), Latin America (Ecuador), and South East Asia (Indonesia). There are three main varieties of cocoa trees: Criollo, Trinitario, and Forastero (Amelonado).

Cocoa trees often grow under the protective shadow of plants such as banana, plantains, and palm trees. They tolerate a wide variety of soil types but are vulnerable to lack of water. Variations in the yield of cocoa trees are affected more by rainfall than by any other climatic factor. Rainfall should be plentiful and well distributed through the year, with levels between 1,500mm and 2,000mm. Dry spells, where rainfall is less than 100mm a month, should not exceed three months. Good agricultural practices, such as weeding, pruning, applying fertilizer, and pest and disease control, are needed for thriving cocoa trees. Cocoa trees can live up to 100 years but are most productive for about 25 to 30 years.

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