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Cocoa is the seed of the cacao tree. The seed contains a lot of fat, and is used to produce cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is then used to produce chocolate.
A cocoa tree takes between 3 -5 years to reach maturity and will produce cocoa pods over a 25 year period when properly managed.
Young Cocoa trees need the right amount of shade to provide the right level of humidity necessary for growth. Banana trees can be a good source of shade to young cocoa trees but it must be planted long before the cocoa tree is planted.
A healthy cocoa tree should produce 25 or more pods per year, which amounts to at least one kg of dry cocoa beans per tree.
Besides its use as a food, by use of the scientific process it has been determined that cocoa is beneficial for health. Cocoa has nearly twice the anti-cancer antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times those found in green tea.
Cocoa is the leading agricultural export of the country and Nigeria is currently the world’s fourth largest producer of Cocoa, after Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Ghana, and the third largest exporter, after Ivory Coast and Ghana.
A 65kg bag of Cocoa goes for N27,000 at Oje Market in Osun state.
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Chiamaka Onyebuchi, Digital Marketing, Novus Agro Nigeria.