Cocoa is known by most people as a powder that is used to produce chocolate. A Ghanaian blacksmith known as Tetteh Quarshie, who worked in Fernando Po (now Equatorial Guinea) on his return to Ghana in 1879, brought the Amelonado Cocoa pods and established the first cocoa farm at Akwapim Mampong in the Eastern Region. This first step has made Ghana, the world’s second-largest cocoa-producing country.
This farm later became a nursery where cocoa farmers then, obtained seedlings for their farms in the country. His triumph is the cocoa that has, today, become the pillar of Ghana’s economy.
What is cocoa? (Theobroma cacao l.)
Cocoa is a raw, unrefined bean, that can be fermented, dried, or roasted. Cocoa beans are extremely versatile and have been used to process liquor, chocolate, cocoa powder, or butter. Apart from making just chocolate out of the bean’s seeds, the inside of the bean can be used to make various confectioneries which are yet to be explored. Harvested cocoa beans are fermented for 6 or 7 days with two/three turnings before drying for another 7 days in the sun. The beans are then bagged, graded, and sealed for export.
Cocoa pods mature and ripe throughout the year and with the introduction of hybrid cocoa seedlings and modern agronomical practices, farmers are assured higher yields all year-round.
Three main cocoa varieties
Have you ever wondered the cocoa varieties; we have in the market? Let’s take a look at three cocoa varieties that determine the taste, price and quality of your favourite chocolate. Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario are three broad types of cocoa that have a huge impact on the flavour of a chocolate.
Criollo: Used to dominate the market until commercial farmers stopped growing it. Today only a few pure Criollo trees remain. They generally have white seeds, very high-quality cocoa bean and very aromatic.
Forastero: Represents about 85% of the world’s cocoa production. Amelonado and Nacional are classified as Forastero despite producing beans with different flavour and shape. This cocoa has strong, earthy flavours and is usually found in Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Central America, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Trinitario: It is believed that Forastero seeds were cross-fertilized with the native criollo beans resulting in the trinitario and now represents about 12% of the world’s cocoa production.
As we celebrate the 2022 national cocoa week celebration, let’s make an effort to purchase Made-in-Ghana chocolate and other cocoa products.