How To Start Cocoa Farming In Nigeria


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


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


Cocoa plants respond well to relatively high

temperatures, with a maximum annual average

of 30 – 32ºC and a minimum average of 18 –


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


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


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


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


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


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


Cocoa Breeding Methods

Cocoa is raised from seed. Seeds will

germinate and produce good plants when

taken from pods not more than 15 days


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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