The cocoa originated in Central America over 5000 years ago, was first developed as a crop in many ancient South American cultures, with the Aztecs and Mayans being the most well-known of these indigenous populations.

The cacao bean was so significant to the local Tribes that it was used as a currency in trade, given to warriors as a post-battle reward, and served at royal feasts.

Researchers have found evidence of cocoa-based food dating back several thousand years. At present, its popularity and production have spread globally.

Cacao grows on warm places, the majority from the tropics. In each of them, different geological and climatic characteristics that convert cocoa beans into unique products, with different flavor and intensity, depending on the area.

Most of the world’s cocoa is in a narrow belt of around 20 degrees to either side of the equator, as it offers the perfect conditions for growing cocoa. The cocoa tree needs high temperatures, humid conditions, and plenty of rainfall to grow successfully. For these reasons, cocoa is produced predominantly in the hot and humid regions of Africa, but also in Asia, Central and South America and Australia. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s cocoa beans come from West Africa, with the Ivory Coast and Ghana being the two biggest producers. These two countries alone provide half of the world’s cocoa. The following largest cocoa-producing countries, in order, are Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. We talk a little about each one: 

INDONESIA: Grew almost no cocoa before the early 1980s, when production took off like a rocket. Now it is the world’s third-leading producer of cocoa beans. One main concern for the Indonesian cocoa crop is the pod borer insect, which has damaged the industry’s growth recently. 

NIGERIA: This last year, unfavorable weather conditions have led to a lower production yield than expected. The rains of the Cross River region have spoiled crops that account for 40% of total Nigerian production.

CAMEROON: has historically been one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa, growing 275,000 metric tons in 2013. Despite this fact, the cocoa business in Cameroon is under threat. Poor management of the cocoa crop has led to a dire situation: many of Cameroon’s cocoa trees have aged past the age of original production. Without newer trees or enough space to plant then, Cameroon’s cocoa farmers are looking to face an uphill battle.

BRAZIL: The world wants more cocoa than it can produce. Since the 80s, the Moniliophthora Pernicious fungus threatens the plantations by causing them a mold known as ‘witch’s broom.’ This problem has made Brazil go from being the 1st world cocoa producer to the 6th. The consumption boom has led the country to import up to 64,000 tons of beans from Ivory Coast.

ECUADOR: Cocoa industry is one of the world’s oldest.
Ecuador production of cocoa cannot match the global cocoa superpowers in West Africa in terms of gross output. But many chocolate connoisseurs feel Ecuador has a high quality.

MEXICO: Every year, more than 28 thousand tons of cocoa comes from Tabasco, Chiapas, and Guerrero. They are the primary producers of this product.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: The country has increased its production by 3% compared to the previous season. The harvest of fine cocoa (40% of the country’s total) and raised in organic cocoa cultivation lead the Dominican Republic to take a position on the world’s production.

PERU: The harvest in Peru has exceeded all expectations. Between 2008 and 2013, exports have increased by 99%. Brutal! Part of this success is due to the transformation policies of the Peruvian government, which encourage farmers to exchange their coca crops for cocoa.

Besides this Peruvian chocolate, the main product of cacao has won numerous International Worlds Best Chocolate Awards. This is getting the attention of big chocolate companies looking to lead the market.

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