Cocoa production business in Nigeria is very popular. It is no wonder because the basis of all chocolate desserts is cocoa. We will tell you how it is produced, how people grow cocoa beans and what benefits they bring to the simple Nigerian man.
A lot of people like chocolate, cakes, hot cocoa, and other various desserts, which include 2 main ingredients - cocoa butter and cocoa powder. The latter is the most common and can easily be found on the shelves of Nigerian stores.
History of cocoa production in Nigeria
The homeland of the chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao) is the humid tropical forests of Central and South America, the Amazon River basin. These unusual trees grow in a warm, humid climate at a temperature of 24-28 ° C.
In translation from Greek, Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. The natives of Mexico, the Aztecs, attributed the cocoa to the divine origin, and from the grains, they prepared a special bitter drink chocolatl (so the European name chocolate appeared), which had toning properties.
In Europe, cocoa grains appeared in 1520. At the end of the XIX century, the plant began to grow in India, Indonesia, Brazil, and Africa. Since then, a large number of its varieties can be found worldwide.
Agriculture in Nigeria
The main export crops are cocoa beans, peanuts, soybeans, rubber crops, oil palm, sugar cane and cotton. Nigeria is one of the main producers of peanuts, cocoa beans, and soybean on the African continent.
The constant demand for Nigerian cocoa (the country takes the fourth place in the world for its production) is explained by its high taste qualities.
Most farms are focused on growing cocoa beans. A certain drop in the world prices of cocoa usually leads to a sharp decline in incomes and impoverishment of the population in rural areas. Pineapples, bananas, legumes, potatoes, cassava, corn, mango, papaya, millet, rice, sorghum, tobacco, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and yams are also grown.
Livestock breeding (breeding of camels, goats, cattle, horses, sheep, donkeys and pigs) due to the spread of tsetse fly in most of the country is developing mainly in the northern states. Poultry farming is also developing.
In the forestry sector, timber is harvested (including valuable tropical varieties) and lumber is produced. Fisheries are carried out in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea, rivers, and Chad. The average annual catch of fish and seafood is approximate 250 thousand tons.
But still cocoa is one of the most popular and desirable crops in the country.
Why can cocoa be sold well?
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You can use these facts for marketing. Advertisements with the facts always work well.
- Cocoa improves vitality, namely, it improves the mood and stimulates the production of the ‘joy hormone’ – endorphin. It ‘works’ with our pleasant senses, it also has an exciting effect, while vitality increases and additional vital energy appears.
- Regular use of cocoa in small doses (5 raw beans per day) helps to strengthen the nervous and immune system, improve blood circulation in the brain, lower blood pressure, stimulate breathing, and also prevents the occurrence of malignant tumors. Cocoa is useful both for mental and physical loads, it relieves nervous tension and relaxes, but it helps to concentrate, thereby increasing efficiency.
- Raw cocoa beans are the leader among other antioxidant products that deactivate free radicals in the cells of our body and thereby protect us from viral and bacterial infections. Melanin, which is contained in cocoa, protects the skin from ultraviolet and infrared radiation.
- Cocoa butter contains fatty acids that stabilize the cholesterol and vitamin E, which is the strongest antioxidant. It also has rejuvenating properties.
- With the temperature treatment, cocoa loses some of its useful properties; therefore, all of the above, to a greater extent, refers specifically to the raw cocoa. The content of active substances in such cocoa is 6-8 times higher than in industrial, and 15-20 times higher than in chocolate - alas, but this is so. That's why you should talk about a natural product - raw beans or powder from them.
Where is cocoa growing?
The main areas of cultivation and cocoa plantation are located in Central America and Africa, and the largest producer in the world is the Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), which produces about 30% of the annual crop worldwide.
Indonesia is a fairly large player in the market and in the top ten producers of cocoa beans occupies an honorable second place. Some Nigerian regions are perfect for growing cocoa too.
Also, there are other major suppliers, like Ghana, Brazil, Cameroon, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Malaysia and Colombia (in descending order).
A visit to a specific cocoa farm before starting your business may be a very good idea.
How does cocoa tree grow?
What does the fruit look like in its original form? How is cocoa powder produced? These and many other questions we found answers from local workers in Nigerian farms.
Cocoa has a large fruit (15-20 cm), which in shape resembles cucumber and lemon at the same time. It has longitudinal grooves. The immature fruit is green, during maturation it gradually becomes dark maroon.
The rind is quite tough, but it can be cut with a conventional knife. The farm workers tore up a few fruits for us and showed a master class on opening the fruit and extracting the seeds without using a knife - it is enough to hit hard a few times on a sharp stone or protrusion in a stone building, the fruit will crack, after which it can be broken.
Inside the fruit are many large seeds, arranged in several rows and surrounded by a white juicy pulp, which can be enjoyed by sophisticated lovers of exotic fruits. The cocoa fruit in a cut
The flesh is very pleasant to taste, sweet with a little sourness.
Fruits are formed within 30-80 days. Cocoa ripens in 4 months, and mature fruits sometimes reach 30 cm in length and weigh up to 500 grams, on average, their size is 15-20 cm.
Fruit pulp contains about 50 cocoa beans. The tree has a high yield starting from the age of 12 years. There is harvest twice a year, the first time. The first harvest is considered more qualitative, it is in these months that the harvesting and mass production of oil and powder for sale starts.
The word ‘cocoa’ refers to the fruits of a cocoa tree, and the resulting powder and a popular beverage.
The collected fruits are dissected into several parts and laid out on banana leaves or laid in drums for fermentation. The white flesh of the fruit, containing sugar in its composition, begins to ferment, reaching a temperature of 50 ° C.
Seeds do not germinate because alcohol is released during fermentation, while beans lose some of their bitterness. This fermentation lasts 10 days, during this time the beans are saturated with their typical aromatic and flavoring properties and acquire a characteristic color.
Drying is traditionally carried out under the open rays of the sun. We asked the workers about special equipment, like drying ovens. There was a good-natured answer - the small plantations do not have much money, because it is expensive equipment, and the climatic conditions in Nigeria, in general, allow carrying out the process of drying in the sun without additional money costs.
In addition, drying in traditional drying ovens can lead to spoilage and further inadequacy of the obtained beans for chocolate production because of the taste of the smoke.
After drying, the beans are reduced in size. The beans are fried and then compressed for local consumption. It helps to obtain a valuable product - cocoa butter, which is a part of the modern chocolate and is widely used in perfumery and pharmacology. After pressing the dry residue is ground, obtaining all known cocoa powder.
Nigerians often use it for export. The obtained drying cocoa beans are simply packed into bags and sent to the chocolate producing countries, mainly located in Europe and North America. It also may go to the production at the local factory.
People can buy the fruits, dry them in the sun, and then use dried, but non-fried beans to prepare raw desserts. After peeling, the beans can be eaten - they have a bitter taste with a chocolate tint.
The farmers do not press the oil out of the beans, but they simply grind them and obtain a hybrid product from powder and oil at the same time. The desserts, which are made from it, turn out excellent (everyone who tries it, likes it), and super useful because only the natural ingredients are used.