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Cacao is the product of a tree named THEOBROMA CACAO, which like rubber is native to the Western Hemisphere, yet two-thirds of the present production originate from the eastern hemisphere. Cocoa is grown both on small farms and on large plantation. Truly a tropical plant, the cocoa tree which comes to full bearing in 12 years, and which continues to yield good returns for about 30 years, is found to grow in many large and small regions of the world. The rapid development of cocoa farming into a major industry resulted from its many use, such as confectionary, beverages, and cosmetics. Like other products of the tropical commercial plantation farming, cocoa is mainly consumed by the people of the temperate lands.
Varieties of Cocoa. Two varieties of cocoa are usually identified (a) Criollo; (b) Forastero.
Criollo type is mainly found in South America. It is of superior quality and is demanded for blending. But the major portion of the total production is constituted by Forastero variety, which is mainly grown in West Africa.
Physical and economic conditions. The cacao farming is best developed in regions between 15° and 20° on either side of the equator with uniformly high temperatures and abundant and well distributed rainfall, deep, rich moist but not saturated soils and shelter from direct sunlight and strong winds. Cacao plant thrives well in an average annual temperature of 27°C and a rainfall of 200 cm. Deep rich clay barns and sands high in iron and potash content yield large returns.
Of all the economic factors, transportation is of utmost importance. It becomes all the more important in terms of huge investment, which is imperative to keep the roads in working conditions in the face of heavy precipitation.
Producing countries. During the present century the main areas of production has shifted from tropical America to West Africa. Ghana or formerly the Gold Coast alone represents nearly 16% of the world's production, Ivory Coast 25% and Brazil 20%. Other important producers include Cameroon, Equador and a host of South American and African countries. Countries, like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Papua, New Guinea also grow cocoa but their production is only an insignificant fraction of the world's output. Of the continents, Africa is pre-eminent with its share of 70% followed at a great distance by South America with 20%.
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