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Requirements for Cacao Production for High Yields and Maximum Profits

The requirements for cacao production to encourage high yields in order to ensure maximum profits include but not limited to the following;

1. Climatic Requirements for Cacao Production

The natural habitat of the cocoa tree is in the lower storey of the evergreen rainforest and climatic factors, particularly temperature and rainfall, are important in encouraging optimum growth.

a. Temperature: Cocoa plants respond well to relatively high temperatures with a maximum annual average of 30-32 degrees C and a minimum average of 18-21 degrees C.

b. Rainfall: Variations in the yield of cocoa trees from year to year are affected more by rainfall than by any other climatic factor. Trees are very sensitive to a soil water deficiency. Rainfall should be plentiful and well distributed through the year.

An annual rainfall level of between 1,500mm and 2,000mm is generally preferred. Dry spells where rainfall is less than 100mm per month should not exceed three months.

c. Humidity: A hot and humid atmosphere is essential for the optimum development of cocoa trees. In cocoa producing countries relative humidity is generally high, often as much as 100% during the day, falling to 70-80% during the night.

d. Lightandshade: The cocoa tree will make optimum use of any light available and has been traditionally grown under shade. Its natural environment is the Amazonian forest which provides natural shade trees. Shading is indispensable in a cocoa tree’s early years.

2. Soil Conditions for Cacao Production

Cocoa is grown in a wide variety of soil types;

Physical properties – Cocoa needs a soil containing coarse particles to leave free space for roots and with a reasonable quantity of nutrients to a depth of 1.5m to allow the development of a good root system.

Below that level it is desirable not to have impermeable material so that excess water can drain away.

Cocoa will withstand water logging for short periods but excess water should not linger. The cocoa tree is sensitive to a lack of water so the soil must have both water retention properties and good drainage.

Chemical properties – The chemical properties of the topsoil are most important as there are a large number of roots here for absorbing nutrients.

Cocoa can grow in soils with a pH in the range of 5.0-7.5. It can therefore cope with both acid and alkaline soil, but excessive acidity (pH 4.0 and below) or alkalinity (pH 8.0 and above) must be avoided.

Cocoa is tolerant of acid soils provided the nutrient content is high enough. The soil should also have a high content of organic matter, 3.5% in the top 15 centimetres of soil. Soils for cocoa must have certain anionic and cationic balances.

Exchangeable bases in the soil should amount to at least 35% of the total cation exchange capacity (CEC) otherwise nutritional problems are likely. The optimum total nitrogen/total phosphorus ratio should be around 1.5.

3.Other Factors which affect productivity

The following factors affect the productivity and production in any community.

Return on investment – High returns from selling cocoa for little input will naturally cause more cocoa planting to take place. As a tree crop this affects long term production.

In the short term higher returns encourage growers to apply more inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides which increases the yield. However, farmer prices are sometimes set by governments or can be influenced by internal market factors other than the world cocoa price.

Government schemes – The role of government in assisting growers is a leading factor in the grower’s decision whether or not to plant cocoa. Assistance can take different forms, from assistance with setting up and rehabilitation to cheap loans.

Read Also : CACAO (Theobroma Cacao) – The Tree of Life

For example, in Indonesia in 1990 the government made available loans at low rates of interest for the establishment of plantations and many companies were tempted into cocoa growing. Extension services may also assist smallholders.

Requirements for Cacao Production for High Yields and Maximum Profits

Alternative crops – Land suitable for cocoa is also able to support other crops. If cocoa has a low return for a long time, the farmer may switch to another commodity or food crop despite the costs of uprooting and replanting.

Pests, diseases, drought and floods – Pests and diseases, droughts and floods can destroy crops and make the decision to switch to another crop easier.

Yield – Yield depends on the age, type and planting distribution of trees and level of inputs needed. The balance between yield and input costs is important to the grower.

For example, Malaysia had high yields of 700 kg per hectare but also had high costs of between 70 cents and $1.30 per kg.

Tree-stock characteristics – The production capability of the trees and their ability to resist disease are also an important factor in productivity.

The grower with a large estate and more resources will naturally make more use of the most up-to-date planting material whereas the smallholder will depend on government extension services or neighbors.

The age profile of tree-stock is also important when assessing potential production as yields will vary with age.

Breeds resistant to Phytophthora palmivora (black-pod disease) were developed by Cocao Research Institute of Nigeria—CRIN- within the last couple of years. The Clones developed include:

T9/15, T12/11, T19/9, T24/12, T50/32 and T86/2.

Similarly, fifteen (15) progenies that are resistant to Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) were developed by CRIN. These progenies popularly referred to as CRIN Elites include:

1. T7/12 X Na321 (C64)

2. T12/5 X Pa 35 (C65)

3. T17/11 X Na 32

4. T20/21 X Na 32

5. T30/10 X Na 32

6. T65/7 X Na 32

7. T85/5 X Pa 35

8. T86/45 X Na 32

ICS1 X Na 32

ICS7 X Na 32

C77 X C23 (CSSV Tolerant)

C77 X C64 (CSSV Tolerant)

C77 X C87 (WACRI Series IIF)

C75 X C14 (WACRI Series IIKC)

C75 X C25 (WACRI Series IID)

Source: Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) Abuja, Report on Survey Selected Agricultural Raw Materials in Nigeria. 2004, October

Environmental influences – The climate, soil, water supply, human actions and other environmental factors can also affect productivity.

Costs – A large part of the cost of establishment and maintenance of production is labour. The next major cost is inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. Both these costs will vary with the size of the farm and the type of farming carried out.

Financial success in setting up a cocoa farm depends on quick returns from the initial investment and increasing yields to cut unit costs.

Read Also : Importance Of Drainage Mapping In Environment

Agric4Profits

Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. Agric4Profits.com - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. WealthinWastes.com - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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