Cocoa farming business is a huge one. Especially in Africa where it is cultivated massively and serves as a major source of money for the people and governments.
What is a Sustainable cocoa farming business?
A sustainable Cocoa farming is the branch of agriculture that deals with the cultivation and production of cocoa. Cocoa is a tropical plant that is found in Africa and other parts of the world. As a tropical plant it doesn’t need much sunlight and is found growing in shady areas. A cocoa fruit or pod is a red, brown, orange or yellow oval shaped pod found growing on the stems and branches of the cocoa tree. The pod contains up to forty cocoa seeds. The seeds change color to a red brownish color when they are fermented and dried in the sun.
Before the advent of the oil boom in Nigeria, the agriculture sector was the sector that was generating revenue for the country. The revenue was generated by the export of cash crops, cocoa being one of them.
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Uses of sustainable cocoa farming products.
It is used to produce cocoa butter: Cocoa is widely used in the production of cocoa butter, an essential ingredient used extensively in the cosmetic industry in the manufacture of cosmetic products like moisturizers, soaps, creams, lotions etc.
The husks of the cocoa pods can be pelletised and be used to feed livestock.
It is an indispensable resource in the beverage making industries. The main use of this crop is to produce beverages. It can be used to produce chocolates, tea, cocoa liquor, jams and cocoa powder.
The husks of the cocoa pods can also be used in compost making and mulching so as to check soil erosion.
Why invest in sustainable cocoa farming?
A sustainable Cocoa farming remains one of the best agricultural businesses one can venture into. This is because cocoa remains one of the highest selling agricultural product in the country. They have a high demand and high price in the local and international market. One might consider the possibility of exporting cocoa for more profits.
The soil and climate that we have here in Nigeria is suitable for mass cocoa production. As tropical plants, cocoa require less sunlight as they grow better in the shade. They need to be watered regularly and farm irrigation is usually advised for large scale cocoa production. The soil requirement of cocoa is about a pH scale of 4-6. The soils of Nigerian land especially those in the southwestern region meet this requirement, making them the ideal place for cocoa cultivation.
Cocoa is a perennial crop, meaning it has a long lifespan and can survive for many years. Farmers can harvest from the same cocoa plant for as long as 6-10 years.
The demand for cocoa is high. Beverage companies, cosmetic companies constitute a large market for cocoa. Their demand for cocoa is usually very high as they need cocoa for one reason or the other.
The business generates huge turnover. As cocoa is a cash crop, its return on investment is huge. We now know that there is high demand for cocoa, making the business a profitable and lucrative one. More profits could be made if one considers exporting them to the foreign market.
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Different varieties of cocoa.
There are three main common varieties of the cocoa plant. These are;
The Forastero: This variety of cocoa plant is characterized by its short, yellow and smooth cocoa pods. This variety of cocoa produces more cocoa pods. However, the pods are of less quality when compared with other varieties.
The Criollo variety: This variety of cocoa is characterized by its yellow or orange colour when it is ripe. The cocoa pods are long and rough. This variety is more susceptible to disease than the other varieties. They also don’t produce much pods but the pods however are of a good quality.
Trinitario variety: This variety was formed as a result of crossing the Criollo and Forastero variety. They show characteristics similar to both the Criollo and Forastero varieties in terms of pod colour and shape. They produce much pods and of high quality. They are more disease resistant.
How to plant cocoa trees.
There are two main methods of planting cocoa. These are;
Raising cocoa seedlings in a nursery: The viable seeds are collected from ripe pods and are planted in a nursery. In the nursery, shade, water, manure, are provided to the cocoa seedlings. The nursery also offers them protection from pest attacks. The seedlings grow after two weeks with close monitoring and supervision from the farmer. Seedlings which show signs of heathy growth are then selected and transplanted to the field to establish the cocoa plantation.
Direct planting of seeds: This method involves planting the seeds in the field. The farmer makes holes in the soil, places two seeds in each hole and covers it with soil. After two weeks the cocoa seedling grow. Manure can be applied for a faster, healthier growth. After 8 weeks, the weaker of the two seedlings is cut.
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States that produce sustainable cocoa farming in Nigeria.
The top cocoa producing states in Nigeria are;
Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Cross river, Akwa ibom, Ekiti, Edo and Delta states.
Countries that produce sustainable cocoa farming.
The following countries are a list of the world’s top cocoa producing countries. The countries are;
Ivory coast, Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, Cameroon, Mexico, Ecuador etc.
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