How To Start A Cocoa Farming In Ghana

Cocoa farming presents one of the best business
opportunity in Agribusiness.

The demand for cocoa seeds
worldwide is extremely high and the price in international
market is quite encouraging to farmers.

You already know
what cocoa is used for.

There will be no chocolate on the
shelf without the cocoa seeds.

Confectionery and Beverage
making companies will go out of business if cocoa farmers
stops farming.

You plant cocoa trees once and harvest it throughout your
lifetime and still pass it to the generation next! Cocoa
beans is one of the hottest agricultural product in the
market anywhere in the world.

If you have ever been to
cocoa farm, you would realize how beautiful cocoa farm
can be, probably one of the best place to get closer to
nature.

Setting Up Cocoa Farm

Locate a large expanse of forest land with the appropriate
climate and suitable rainfalls.

Cocoa seedling is very
sensitive and can die off quickly if not handled properly.

Under the forest canopy is the ideal place to plant cocoa.

The land you intend to use for your cocoa farming must be
covered by rain forest canopy.

The trees need even
temperatures between 21-23 degrees Celsius, with a fairly
constant rainfall of 1000-2500mm per year.

Get good and improved cocoa variety from reliable source.

International Institute for Tropical Agriculture will be a
good place to get the cocoa variety with some advice. Or if
you want to take the gamble, you just get the cocoa seeds
directly from cocoa farm from an experienced cocoa
farmers.

Clear the forest and plant the cocoa seeds at the beginning
of raining season.

Best period for planting cocoa is around
April May when the raining reason is just picking up.

Climate Condition For Cocoa Farming
Cocoa is produced in countries in a belt between 10ºN and
10ºS of the Equator, where the climate is appropriate for
growing cocoa trees.

The largest producing countries are
Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia.

The natural habitat of the cocoa tree is in the lower storey
of the evergreen rainforest, and climatic factors, particularly
temperature and rainfall, are important in encouraging
optimum growth.

Cocoa plants respond well to relatively high temperatures,
with a maximum annual average of 30 – 32ºC and a
minimum average of 18 – 21ºC.

Variations in the yield of cocoa trees from year to year are
affected more by rainfall than by any other climatic factor.

Trees are very
sensitive to a soil water deficiency. Rainfall should be
plentiful and well distributed throughout the year.

An
annual rainfall level of between 1,500mm and 2,000mm is
generally preferred.

Dry spells, where rainfall is less than
100mm per month, should not exceed three months.

A hot and humid atmosphere is essential for the optimum
development of cocoa trees.

In cocoa producing countries,
relative humidity is
generally high: often as much as 100% during the day,
falling to 70-80% during the night.

The cocoa tree will make optimum use of any light
available and traditionally has been grown under shade.

Its
natural environment is the
Amazonian forest which provides natural shade trees.

Shading is indispensable in a cocoa tree’s early years.

Soil Condition And Property

Cocoa needs a soil containing coarse particles and with a
reasonable quantity of nutrients, to a depth of 1.5m to allow
the development of a good root system.
Below that level it
is desirable not to have impermeable material, so that
excess water can drain away.

Cocoa will
withstand waterlogging for short periods, but excess water
should not linger.

The cocoa tree is sensitive to a lack of
water, so the soil must have both water retention properties
and good drainage.

The chemical properties of the topsoil are most important,
as the plant has a large number of roots for absorbing
nutrients.

Cocoa can
grow in soils with a pH in the range of 5.0-7.5.

It can
therefore cope with both acid and alkaline soil, but
excessive acidity (pH 4.0 and
below) or alkalinity (pH 8.0 and above) must be avoided.
Cocoa is tolerant of acid soils, provided the nutrient content
is high enough.

The soil should also have a high content of
organic matter: 3.5% in the top 15 centimetres of soil.

Soils
for cocoa must have certain anionic and cationic balances.

Exchangeable bases in the soil should amount to at least
35% of the total cation exchange capacity (CEC), otherwise
nutritional problems are likely.

The optimum total
nitrogen / total phosphorus ratio should be around 1.5.

Suitable Cocoa Varieties

Criollos: This variety dominated the market until the
middle of the eighteenth century, but today only a few, if
any, pure Criollo trees remain.

Criollo is considered the finest of the luxury cocoas.

Only
mildly acidic and hardly bitter at all, it possesses a mild
cocoa taste with distinctive secondary aromas and hints of
nuts, caramel, forest fruits and tobacco.

Because the Criollo
plant is more susceptible to fungal disease and other pests,
it produces smaller yields and its fruits are therefore more
expensive.

Forastero: This cocoa is considered the forefather of all
cocoa varieties and delivers very good harvests thanks to
its robustness.

It accounts for some 80% of global cocoa
cultivation.

Typical characteristics of Forastero are its
powerful, less aromatic cocoa flavour that can in some
cases be bitter or acidic.

The back looks hard and rough
and can be found easily in Nigeria, Ghana, and Ivory Coast.

The Trinitario: This populations are considered to belong
to the Forasteros, although they are descended from a
cross between Criollo and Forastero.

Trinitario planting
started in Trinidad, spread to Venezuela and then to
Ecuador, Cameroon, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Java and Papua
New Guinea.

Trinitario combines the hardiness of consumer cocoa with
the pleasant flavours of luxury cocoa. Trinitario cocoa has
a powerful, aromatic cocoa taste and is only slightly acidic.

Cocoa Breeding Methods

Cocoa is raised from seed. Seeds will germinate and
produce good plants when taken from pods not more than
15 days underripe.

Cutting: Tree cuttings are taken with between two and five
leaves and one or two buds.

The leaves are cut in half and
the cutting placed in a pot under polyethylene until roots
begin to grow.

Budding: A bud is cut from a tree and placed under a flap
of bark on another tree.

The budding patch is then bound
with raffia and waxed tape of clear plastic to prevent
moisture loss.

When the bud is growing, the old tree above
it is cut off.

Marcotting: A strip of bark is removed from a branch and
the area covered in sawdust and a polyethylene sheet.

The
area will produce roots and the branch can then be
chopped off and planted.

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