African Organic Agriculture Training Manual: Cocoa Crop Management
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) plantations are one of the most important forms of land use and are of enormous economic importance to developing countries in the humid tropics. The main cocoa producing countries in Africa include Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa. However, organic cocoa is mainly produced in Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda. FAO reports that the world dry cocoa bean production has increased in the last 30 years from 1.54 to 4.16 million tonnes. To reach this total production, the world average yields in dry beans have increased from 350 kg per hectare to 500 kg per hectare during that time and the area under cocoa was substantially increased. However, the International Cocoa Organisation reports that there are big differences in yields between regions. While farmers in West Africa attain yields of 200 to 300 kg per hectare, farmers in Latin America and Indonesia harvest between 500 and 600 kg of cocoa beans per hectare on average.
Learning targets for farmers:
- Understand that cocoa trees require a diversity of shade trees of different sizes and thus species forming a stratified forest system.
- Recognize the relevance of maintaining a conducive environment for cocoa growth through regular pruning of the cocoa and shade trees.
- Understand that the appearance of pests and diseases is a sign of a poorly managed or unbalanced agroforestry system and that control should start with the establishment of a well-managed and balanced agroforestry system.
- Recognize that cocoa plantations under proper management can remain productive for a long period of time.