Today, chocolate has reached every region of the country. It has become one of the favourite treats for kids as well as adults. The demand for chocolate is increasing every day in the nation and across the world, so the chocolate business is continuously growing.
Moreover, chocolate is made from cocoa plants, which are cultivated all over the world. It is a cash and export crop, and its production has started widely in many states of the country. Thus, cocoa farming has made a huge contribution to the agricultural economy worldwide. So, if you are a farmer looking to adopt profitable cocoa farming, this blog explains its complete cultivation process.
Introduction To Cocoa Tree
Its fruit is similar to papaya, which contains 30 to 60 seeds. The Cocoa tree is 4 to 7 metres tall, and its fruits emerge on the stems. Cocoa is a plant of equatorial hot and humid lowland regions. Therefore, it requires high temperatures and high rainfall.
Obtaining Cocoa From Plants
Cocoa is a cash crop and is prepared from the seeds of cacao fruits. Moreover, the cacao fruit looks like papaya, containing 30 to 60 seeds. The process of obtaining cocoa powder requires fermentation of the seeds. Then, the seeds are dried and roasted to make both hot and cold beverages.
Cocoa Farming Market And Profits
Moreover, there are many multinational companies in the cocoa sector in India that export cocoa products, including seeds, chocolates, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder. The price of cocoa is about Rs 200 per kg in markets across the country. Fermented cocoa beans are even more expensive.
Similar to tea, coffee, and rubber, cocoa also has the status of a horticultural crop in the country. Cocoa farming in India is practiced in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. Apart from this, the leading worldwide producers of cocoa are the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Brazil, Mexico, New Guinea, Venezuela, the Philippines, and Malaysia.
Cocoa Farming Essential Steps
Growing cocoa on a large scale requires proper care and the right farming practices to obtain a high-quality yield and ensure healthy plant development.
Here are the essential steps for cocoa farming.
Climate And Land Selection For Cocoa Farming
Cocoa is a plant of tropical regions and requires a temperature of 18°C to 32°C. It can be cultivated along with coconut and areca palm with the help of a Force tractor. Along with this, it can always be planted outside in micro-climatic conditions in the fields. At the same time, cocoa can adapt to different types of soil, but deep and rich soil ensures a good yield. If you want to produce cocoa regularly, choose such ground where moisture is consistent for its growth. The onset of monsoon is considered the most suitable for planting cocoa.
Land Preparation For Cocoa Farming
Also, tractor-assisted cultivation of cocoa is a great earning option for the farmers. Before preparing the field for cocoa farming:
- Do one 2 to 3 deep ploughing of the area with a plough, which is operated by a Sonalika tractor.
- After this, apply 150 to 200 quintals of cow dung manure per hectare in the field. Then, with the help of cultivators, perform 2 to 3 deep ploughing to mix the manure well.
- After this, level the field by placing a plank.
- Prepare pits 15 to 20 days before planting.
Planting Method In Cocoa Farming
The cocoa crop can be planted as a mono-crop or intercropping. Therefore, cocoa can be produced with coconut and areca palm. For a profitable production of cocoa, farmers should ensure sufficient sunlight. In one-acre land, 400 plants can be planted in cocoa farming. Also, a minimum distance of 4 meters should be kept between two seedlings.
Moreover, transplanting hybrid seedlings is recommended for a higher yield because more pods can be obtained from each seedling. In the case of intercropping, planting coconut or areca nut palms in cocoa fields can generate additional income.
Cocoa Plants Irrigation Needs
Healthy growth and productivity of cocoa trees are ensured by proper irrigation. Because cocoa trees are drought-sensitive, it is important to maintain constant moisture levels. It is recommended that young cocoa plants receive frequent irrigations spaced three days apart during the summer and in hot, dry climates.
Moreover, cocoa plants do not need irrigation in the monsoon season. Also, it must be ensured that the water from fields is removed as quickly as possible in the event of floods or heavy rains. Apart from this, using drip irrigation is the most efficient way to use water.
Pruning Of Cocoa Plants
The process of pruning involves thinning down branches and getting rid of old or dead stems and branches. For the most part, farm management requires this in order to provide direct sunlight for optimal crop growth. In cocoa farming, pruning is performed twice a year. Furthermore, it is done to manage the height at which sunlight promotes a tree’s growth.
Before the monsoon, it is suggested that the initial pruning following the main harvest is carried out. The second pruning should be carried out after six months. This includes the removal of the dead and weak branches by cutting them. To improve the absorption of sunlight, only 4 to 5 healthy branches are left after pruning.
Manures And Fertilisers For Cocoa Plants
The use of fertilisers and manures is good for cocoa because its plants are capable of giving excellent yields within three years without care. Apart from commercial farmers, small-scale crop growers can also earn a good income through 4 to 5 trees on a small scale. This can be easily achieved using kitchen waste water for small-scale cocoa farming.
Harvesting In Cocoa Farming
Cocoa trees start bearing flowers from the third year of sowing, and farmers obtain their commercial yield from the fifth year. Moreover, Cocoa pods take about 5 to 6 months to completely mature, which can be detected by the difference in colour. After ripening, mature cocoa obtains a yellow colour.
The process of harvesting is carried out at regular intervals while ensuring that the fruits are not over-ripened. Afterwards, the pods are cracked open using a mallet or by heating them on a hard surface.
Stay tuned with us for more information regarding profitable cash crops.