Here in this post, we are going to give you a detailed guide on the steps to farm cocoa in Nigeria. We hope you find this post helpful.
Cocoa farming is a very lucrative aspect of the agro-business. I mean, we all know what cocoa contributes to our mornings and lives.
There won’t be beverages on our shelves If Cocoa farmers went on a worldwide strike. Since the economic recession in Nigeria, Citizens have begun taking Agriculture more seriously for both domestic use, and even commercial sales.
Read Also: How to Start Cocoa Business in Nigeria
This article will guide you on how to farm cocoa in Nigeria.
Overview of Farm Cocoa Business in Nigeria
Ordinarily, cocoa can strive in the Nigerian temperature and weather conditions. The demand for cocoa seeds worldwide is at an ever high, this makes cocoa farming a gold mine for people that intend to delve into the business.
You plant Cocoa seeds once, and harvest it for a lifetime and still pass it on too the next generation. Just like Bananas and cotton, you only have to plant this seeds once in your lifetime and nature will do the rest.
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Let’s jump straight into the river, Cocoa farming can make you one of the richest persons in your country. If you doubt me, check out this companies whose owners are now swimming in a lifetime worth of money.
- BOURNVITA- Nestle
With the right amount of hard work, you can really make it in the Cocoa farming business. So grab your hoes and every other tool, it’s time to farm your way to success. There is no limit to the amount of money and opportunities, you can get in the Cocoa business.
How to Farm Cocoa in Nigeria
It’s time to give you guidelines on how to start a good and successful Cocoa farm in Nigeria. It is important to pay good attention here because, Cocoa seeds, if not properly taken care of, can die very quickly. You do not want your business to die before it is even born.
Do Some Research
Cocoa is a very fragile plant that needs careful nurturing till it reaches adult age. Don’t delve into this business, or any business at all without proper knowledge or a good feasibility study on the business Idea.
So pick up a pen and paper and conduct a good feasibility study:
What is the business idea?
Who is your Target market?
What is your goal?
What are my challenges?
With this guide, you should be able to identify your business idea, your advantages and your challenges.
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Starting a Cocoa farm is quite capital intensive, you will need to purchase sophisticated equipment, and machineries to properly maintain your farm. There are agricultural loans available for farmers all over Nigeria.
The Federal government recently approved 1.5 billion naira, for agric loans to farmers nationwide. With the right pitch and effort you can secure a fair amount in loan to help you start up your farm. You can get this loans from banks such as:
- INDUSTRIAL BANK OF NIGERIA
- AGRICULTURAL BANK OF NIGERIA E.T.C
Get A Land
This is where most of the capital goes into, if you don’t have a land. First of all locate a large expanse of land, usually in a forest with good tree canopy.
Under the forest canopy is the ideal place to plant Cocoa. The trees need even temperatures between 21-23 degrees Celsius, with a fairly constant rainfall of 1000-2500mm per year.
You can secure a land by getting a landlord who is willing to rent out this land for an agreed fee every year. If you have enough money, you can decide to buy this land as it will save you more money.
However, make sure you secure a land with good road access to the local market, or the main city. You do not want to harvest your Cocoa and then transporting it to buyers becoming a problem.
Get the Cocoa Seed
Get some very good and improved cocoa variety from a reliable source. The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, will be a nice place to get the cocoa variety with some valuable advice on how to plant. You can also get the seeds from an experienced farmer.
P.S If you are not experienced in Cocoa farming, I will advise that you get an experienced farmer to plant and nurture the seeds to maturity.
This will help save you the hazards and heart break, of your seeds dying before maturity. The number of seeds you should buy could vary, depending on the size of your land.
Maintaining the Farm
Clear the forest with a tractor, apply fertilizer and wait some days before planting your seeds. Although, some soils are naturally fertile, but it is advisable to apply fertilizer on your farm to increase the fertility and hopefully also increase the seasons yield. The best time to plant your cocoa seeds, is between April and May when the raining season is just picking up.
Cocoa is largely produced in countries in a belt between 10ºN and 10ºS of the Equator, where the climate is appropriate for growing cocoa trees.
The largest producing countries are Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia. The best climate temperature for Cocoa is usually between 32-31 degrees maximum and 18-21 degree Celsius minimum annually.
Weed your farm regularly especially at the Cocoa seed early stages this will prevent choking of the trees in the Nursery.
Harvest Your Cocoa
Cocoa seedlings and then cocoa trees take 3-5 years to yield a crop, with hybrid varieties providing crops earlier. But cocoa trees should be productive for about 25 years.
Mind you, 3-5 years seem like a very long time, the wait is usually worth it when you start harvesting healthy Cocoa crops. Just like coffee, harvesting and processing are crucial for high quality-fine cocoa. Before you harvest.
Check for Ripeness
Similar to coffee, cacao picking is a difficult task. And one of the biggest tasks lies in telling when the pods are ripe. Under-ripe cacao will not yet have developed all its great flavors and aromas while, as the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) explains, over-ripe ones will start to germinate.
Once a farmer realizes their crop is ready to harvest, they can begin to hand-pick the pods. Since cacao pods ripen at very different times, mechanization isn’t possible. Often a machete or a specialized knife will be used.
Storing Your Dry Cocoa
Now, the cacao is finally ready to be stored until it’s time for the buyer to collect it. It is very important to keep oxygen out and ensure humidity levels are consistent; you can use airtight GrainPro bags, for example.
Most people have no Idea how chocolate bars or beverages are made. Just like coffee Cocoa processing is quite difficult. However, the profit is very encouraging.
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