How to Start Cocoa Plantation Successfully with Small Investment

Do you want to start a cocoa plantation business for profit? Find here a detailed cocoa plantation business plan checklist with cost, profit, farming process and yield.

Actually, cocoa yields cocoa beans. And cocoa beans are the source of cocoa butter and cocoa mass. And these are the important ingredients in the commercial bakery, confectionery, and sweet production. Hence, cocoa is an important commercial plantation crop of the world.

The primary center of diversity of cocoa is upper Amazon basin in South America. And you can find the greatest range of variation in the natural population. Currently, there are several countries that grow cocoa commercially.

The scientific name of cocoa is Theobroma cacao. And it belongs to Mallows family. Some of the major cocoa producing countries are Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. India produces cocoa in small quantity. Some of the major cocoa producing states are Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

Economic Importance of Cocoa Plantation

First of all, cocoa is a companion crop in irrigated coconut and areca nut gardens. Because it needs partial shade. Additionally, different value-added cocoa products like cocoa powder and butter have the huge export potential.

Basically,  Africa holds a dominant position with almost 70% of production volumes, 40% coming from
the Côte d’Ivoire. And the USA and Europian countries are the major importer countries of cocoa. Currently, the Eastern Europe and Asia are the most emerging markets of cocoa.

Health Benefits of Cocoa

  1. First of all, cocoa aids in lowering blood pressure and improving the elasticity of blood vessels.
  2. Also, cocoa offers anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, anti-carcinogenic, and antioxidant qualities.
  3. The flavanol-rich cocoa may aid in maintaining a healthy brain.
  4. The consumption of cocoa has been shown to be effective in improving insulin resistance and glucose metabolism.
  5. Additionally, cacao beans contain xanthine and theophylline, which aid in relaxing bronchial spasms and opening constricted bronchial tubes.
  6. Also, cocoa helps to prevent high-fat-diet-induced obesity.

Things to Consider in Commercial Cocoa Plantation

  • First of all, commercial cultivation includes different type of costs. So, financial planning is essential in commercial farming.
  • You can consider cocoa cultivation with other crops like coconut or arace nut to get the maximum profitability from a particular area of land.
  • Before initiating the plantation, test the soil of the land. It will help you in plant protection and nutrient management.
  • In the commercial cocoa plantation, you must concentrate on the marketing of cocoa beans. Generally, small-scale cocoa products manufacturers are the major consumers of cocoa beans.

Best Varieties for Cocoa Plantation

There are three varietal types in cocoa namely Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario. Also, there is some improved Indian variety of cocoa.

CCRP I

It comes with green medium-sized pods. and it changes to yellow on ripening. The trees are self-incompatible. Generally, the mature pods weigh 385 gm with 46 beans. On an average, a tree yields 56 pods per year with a yield potential of 72 pods.

CCRP IV

This variety comes with purple-tinged large pods. And it turns yellow on ripening. Generally, the mature pods weigh 402 gm with 45 beans. On an average, a tree yields 66 pods per year with a yield potential of 93 pods.

CCRP V

This variety comes with elliptical green large pods. The pods turn yellow on ripening. Generally, the mature pods weigh 425 gm with 45 beans and 0.8 gm oven-dry bean weight. The average yield is 38 pods per tree per year with a yield potential of 55 pods.

CCRP VI

it comes with very big sized pods. Mature pods weigh 895 gm with 48 beans and 1.9 gm after oven dry. The average yield is 50 pods per tree per year with a total yield potential of 180 pods.

CCRP VII

Basically, it comes with large, elongated green pods. Generally, the mature pods weigh 526 gm with 47 beans and 0.9 gm after oven dry. The average yield 78 pods per tree with a yield potential of 95 pods.

Indonesia

DR-1, DR-2, DR-21, and DR-35 are resistant to the cocoa moth.

Trinidad

ICS-1, ICS-45, and ICS-92 are high-yielding selections showing varying degree of tolerance to witches broom.

Some of the drought-tolerant varieties are NC 23, NC 29, NC 31, NC 39 and NC 42.

Agroclimatic Condition for Cocoa Plantation

First of all, you can grow cocoa al altitudes up to 900m. The tree can’t withstand high winds, drought or sudden fall in temperature. Additionally, it grows well in regions where temperature ranges from 10° to 38°C. Cocoa prefers well-distributed rains. The requires minimum 100 to 150 cm rainfall per annum. Alos, the crop prefers a relative humidity of 80%.

Suitable Soil for Cocoa Plantation

You can grow cocoa successfully in a wide range of soils. However, well-drained, rich soils, acidic to neutral in the reaction are the best suited. Additionally, the soil must have a minimum soil depth of 1.5 m. Very course sandy soils are not suitable for cocoa plantation. Furthermore, pH ranging from 4.5- 8.0 with the optimum being 6.5- 7.0 is suitable for commercial plantation.

Commercial Cocoa Plantation – Basic Steps

Tissue Culture in Cocoa Plantation

You can opt for micropropagation for mass multiplication of elite materials as a supplement of conventional propagation. In most of the cases, cotyledonary tissues show the best response to callus induction.

Propagation

You can opt for both the seed and vegetative propagation in the commercial cocoa plantation. Generally, seed propagation is desirable to collect the seeds for biclonal and polyclonal seed gardens. The seeds start germinating in about a week. Aout 90% seeds germinate in this process. Then, you will need to transplant the seeds in perforated polythene bags. Generally, you can plant the four to six months old seedlings in the main field.

For large-scale plantation, you must go for the vegetative propagation. Though vegetative propagation by budding, rooting of cuttings and grafting are feasible, budding is widely popular.

Planting

In soils of low fertility and gravelly lateritic zones, dig the pits of 50 cm X 50 cm X 50 cm size. hen, fill them with a mixture of topsoil and organic manure. In soils of good texture and depth, there is no significant advantage out of making big planting pits. Additionally, you must plant on the soil surface, since, feeding roots are confined to the surface irrespective of the depth of planting.

Aftercare & Management on Cocoa Plantation

Immediately after planting, you must mulch the basins with organic manure. Remove the shoots which emerge from the lower portions of the bud patch periodically. Actually, it ensures the healthy growth of scion shoot. During the first 3 to 4 years of planting, it is essential to keep the field weed free.

Manuring & Fertilization

According to the soil test report, you will need to apply manure and fertilizers. Generally, you can apply NPK fertilizer in 2 equal split doses. In trees that yield more than 60 pods per year, double the dose. Also, you can apply dolomite @ 100gm per plant per year from third year onwards. Generally, the best method of fertilizer application is to rake in and mix fertilizers with soil in shallow basins of 150 cm radius for grown-up plants.

Pruning in Cocoa Plantation

Cocoa grows naturally in tires. Under good management and adequate shade, its plants forquette at a height of 1 – 1.5 m producing 3 to 5 fan branches. For convenience, you must restrict the growth to one tier at a convenient height. You must do pruning and shaping of grown-up plants gradually without much shock to the bearing plants.

Irrigation in Cocoa Plantation

Under the condition of well-distributed rainfall, cocoa grows up well as a rain-fed crop. In that case, you may not need to provide irrigation. In areas where rain-free period extends to 4 to 6 months, you will need to provide supplemental irrigation. Generally, you may provide irrigation once in 5 days. It helps in better growth of plants and precocity in bearing.

Top Working in Cocoa Plantation

Generally, top working is very useful to rejuvenate old and unproductive cocoa plants. Also, it converts genetically poor yielders to high yielders. After the pre-monsoon shower is the best time for top working in cocoa. The top working technique consists snapping back the desired trees below the forquette after cutting halfway.

Plant Protection

Generally, plant protection includes protecting your cocoa farm from harmful pests and diseases. There are several potential pests and insects you can find. So, you must have the financial arrangements for protecting the farm.

Harvesting & Post-harvest Management

Generally, the cocoa pods take 150 to 170 days from pollination to harvesting. You can judge the stage of maturity of pods best by the color change of the pods. You can store the harvested pods up to for 4 days. Generally, it enhances the pre-fermentation activity inside pods and helps to get good quality cured beans. You can break the pods by hitting them against a hard surface. And finally, extract the beans without placenta and keep for fermentation immediately.

Generally, the harvested beans need fermentation. And also you can consider initiating a cocoa processing unit to produce different value-added products from your cocoa plantation business.