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Saturday, 3 August 2013

Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)

A glass of hot chocolate drink served at your table in the morning, perhaps accompanied by a slice of cake made with one of the ingredients that is derived from chocolate as well.

You may not realize that cocoa powder that brewed into that delicious drink, come to your desk after  following a long process and pass through various stages of cultivation and production as well as a long trade chain.

Yes, a glass of chocolate and a slice of brown bread that you enjoy it, comes from a plant that originally grew at the foot of the Andes Mountains,  in the Amazon and Orinoco valley in South America.  Today the plant  known as the Cocoa Tree (Theobroma cacao) that it is spreading throughout the tropics regions worldwide as a cultivated plant that has a high economic potential.

Characteristic of the tree:
Cocoa classified into plants  groups of caulifloris (the plants that flowering and fruiting on the trunk and branches),  including the genus of Theobroma. Sterculiaceae family, and species Theobroma cacao. Cocoa trees can grow up to 20-30 feet and require a greater  plant protector. This plant requires an average rainfall / year between 1150 - 2500 mm, and maximum growth temperatures between 30-32 º C and minimum temperatures between 18-20 º C. Growth and good results are also influenced by the intensity of sunlight received in sufficient quantities, fertile soils and good spacing.  Cocoa plants is bisexual, have no honey, and its pollen cling tightly making it difficult to powdered by the wind.  However , then identified that other party participated in the flower pollinating process are insects.

The plants begin to bear fruit after 4-5 years old and reach the highest fruit production at the age of 12 years. This plant can bear fruit continuously until the age of 50 years,  and can be done twice in a year. Cocoa trees on the outline can be divided into two parts, namely the vegetative covering the roots, stems and leaves and generative parts that include flowers and fruits.

Cacao trees have a taproot (Radik Primaria). Root growth could reach 8 feet and 15 feet to one side towards the bottom. Cocoa that propagated vegetatively at early growth does not form a taproot, but the roots of its many fibers. Once mature, the plants will form roots that resemble two taproot. 

At the early growth of cocoa, the plants that propagated by seeds  will form the main stem before growing primary branches. Location of growth of primary branches called jorquette, with ideal height 1.2 to 1.5 meters from the ground and jorquette is not present in cocoa that propagated vegetatively.

In terms of growth, the branches of the cacao plant grow towards the top and sides. Branches that grow upward called Orthotrop branches and branches that grow toward the side called Plagiotrop. From the trunk and branches of the two types are often overgrown shoots water (Chupon) that absorbs a lot of energy, so if left the chupon  to grow then will reduce flowering and fruiting.

Cocoa flowers are perfect flowers, consisting of leaf sheath (Calyx) as many as 5 pieces and stamens (Androecium) amounted to 10 strands. Flower diameter of 1.5 centimeters. Flowers propped up by 2-4 centimeters flower stalks. The flowering characteristic are cauliflora and ramiflora, meaning that the flowers and fruit grow attached to the trunk or branches, which are flowers only until the secondary branches.  Cocoa plants under normal circumstances can generate as much as 6000 up to 10000 flowers per year, but only about five percent of flowers can be fruit.

The fruit:


Fruit seeds have a very soft meat; fruit peel has ten grooves and thickness between 1-2 centimeters. Shape, size, and color of cacao fruit assortment, fruit length about 10-30 centimeters.  Generally, there are three kinds of cocoa fruit color, i.e. light green to dark green, when young and turn yellow after cooking, red, and mixed colors between red and green.

The fruit will ripen 5-6 months after pollination. Young fruit size is less than 10 centimeters called nipple. This fruit often suffered drying (cherellewilt) as a specific symptom of the cocoa plant. Such symptoms called physiological effect thinning; this symptom is the presence of physiological processes that impede the distribution of nutrients that support the growth of the young fruit. These symptoms can also be due to competition between vegetative and generative energy or by reducing hormones needed for growth of young fruit.

Currently there are three known types of cacao varieties commonly cultivated by farmers:


a. Criollo
This type is the type of high quality. The characteristics of this variety are:
  • Susceptible to pests and diseases.
  • Color red or green fruit.
  • Skin rough, bumpy and grooved. Groove clear skin, thick but soft leather so easily broken.
  • Cocoa beans lower fat. Round seed shape, has a specific aroma and flavor.
  • b. Forestero.

b. Forestero
This kind of quality under the Criollo, but widely cultivated because it can grow well at altitudes below 400m asl. The characteristics of this tree include:
  • Grow faster, resist disease and quickly bear fruit.
  • Yellow purple fruit, smooth skin and shallow grooves.
  • Seeds thin, flattened and katiledo purple when wet.

c. Trinitario.
It is a hybrid between Criollo with Forestero, the quality is not as good as Criollo but better than Forestero.  Have all its good side of Forestero growth characters.  Trinitario bring a fresh aroma with a flavor that is not too bitter and rather young color.

Humans only use the seeds of the cacao tree, not the whole fruit. Production process from cocoa seeds into cocoa beans always take some series steeps,  the best process is through the fermentation of the fruit that steeps includes: picking ripe fruit, seed separation, fermented beans, then drying and then the cocoa beans ready for the next process, either making brown fat, as well as manufacture of cocoa powder.

One ounce organic raw cacao powder contains: Calories: 120, Calories from Fat: 23, Total Fat: 2.5g, 4% Recommended daily value, Saturated Fat: 1.5g, 7%, Sodium: 20mg, 1%, Total Carbohydrates: 19.0g, 6%, Dietary Fiber: 7.0g, 28%, Protein: 5.0g, Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 4%, Iron 16%.

Economic Potential:
According to World Cocoa Foundation data release,  In 2011, trading volume of cocoa futures on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) was 4.95 million metric tonnes, outpacing production by 750,000 onnes.  Conversely , ICE traded 3.8 million tonnes in 2010, 390,000 tonnes less than total production.

It means that “production of cocoa” is still suffering by global demand and the different is look keep in growing. From the same resources,  total production of cocoa in 2011 – 2012 worldwide is 3.98 million metric tonnes, while in 2007-2008 global production “only” 3.66 million metric tonnes.

From FAO, here is the list of five biggest cacao counties producer  of the world in 2011, the data was little bit different than WCF data:

Country per metric tonnes on 2011:
  1. Côte d'Ivoire     1.350.320 
  2. Indonesia                     712.200 
  3. Ghana                     700.000 
  4. Nigeria                     400.000 
  5. Cameroon             272.000


From the short information above, indicated that developing cocoa plant in an industry scale is not a bad decission in agro business, Africa and South Eastasia are the perfect region to establish the farm. But if you love Latin America, you can do so.

Scientific classification:
  • Kingdom: Plantae (Plants)
  •       Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (Vascular Plants)
  •           Super Division: Spermatophyta (Produces seeds)
  •               Division: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)
  •                   Class: Magnoliopsida (dashed two / dicots)
  •                       Sub Class: Dilleniidae
  •                           Order: Malvales
  •                               Family: Sterculiaceae
  •                                   Genus: Theobroma
  •                                       Species: Theobroma cacao L.