Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.), also called ‘Food of the gods’, is a cash crop and tropical plant cultivated primarily for cocoa beans which are used to make cocoa powder and butter. Cocoa has three varieties. They are Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario.
The Forastero variety is usually yellow and sometimes red when the cocoa pod is ripe. This variety is the most common in Central and West Africa. However, its flavor is not as good as the flavor of Criollo and Trinitario. The Criollo variety is more expensive, more sought after and is usually red or red-orange when the pod is mature. The Trinitario variety is the hybrid of Forastero and Criollo varieties.
Cocoa beans are greatly valued because of their aroma and nutrients which are magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, copper, selenium, vitamins B2 and vitamins B3. When these beans are fermented and dried, they contain 8% carbohydrate, 10% proteins, 50-57% lipids, 5% minerals and 12% fibers.
Being a cash crop, the cocoa plantation can last as high as 40 years. The average sales price per tonne of dried cocoa seeds is 2,100 USD. Cocoa has been a major income source for cocoa farmers who are responsible for the majority of cocoa produced in the world. Cocoa production and export has been a major foreign exchange earner for cocoa-producing countries. In the year 2012, the global volume of cocoa produced was about 4 million tonnes. Chocolate is the commonest derived product of cocoa. It is worth mentioning that other products from cocoa include cocoa powder and cocoa butter.
Cocoa is a plant that thrives and performs better in the tropics (humid and hot). Cocoa will grow and thrive in the following countries.
- Ivory Coast or Côte d’Ivoire
Some other countries that produce cocoa are:
- Papua New Guinea
Top Cocoa Producing Countries in the World are presented in the table below:
|12||Papua New Guinea||41,300|