COMPLETE COCOA FARMING GUIDE ( Illustrative guide and information about cocoa cultivation)

Have you ever wondered how cocoa trees are grown? or have you ever desired to grow cocoa trees, but couldn’t find any good direction or guide about it, if the above questions concern you, then you have found the total guide and step by step direction and every information you will need about cocoa and it’s farming process, not minding the country you reside in, be it Nigeria,Ghana, USA, Canada, UK, Ivory coast etc.

Cocoa is a tropical plant that grow well in rain forest and does well in a good fertile soil with pH of 5.5 to 7.5.

This plant has one of the very best and lucrative economic potential and lucrative income nature as it can last for years while producing fruits which are very costly both domestically and internationally.

Cocoa is very powerful that it have sustained the economy of some countries in the past like Nigeria before oil was discovered.


Top countries producing cocoa on a commercial quantity are Ghana, ivory coast, Nigeria etc.

In this article, I am going to explain all the information involved in cocoa farming and it’s uses.


What is cocoa

Types of cocoa for planting

Locating a good farm land for cocoa plantation

Preparation of land for cocoa farming

Planting of Cocoa/Methods of cocoa planting

Care of cocoa farm/trees

Harvest of Cocoa plants

Uses/Important of cocoa


Cocoa is a tropical plant that is found mainly in the rainforest, which can also be grown in non tropical areas too with much care!.
It produces fruits which are oval in shape and when ripe can be broken and the white membrane and the seeds inside licked.


Cocoa is very sweet when licked and the seeds also called bean seeds can be used to produce many things in the industry, that is why it is very costly all around the world.

This plant has the potential to last for many years once planted and taken care of at the initial stage, and it also can sustain people financially because it lasts for a long time and produces good amount of fruits.

A cocoa tree could produce up to 20 to 50 fruits at a time.

It can be very tall, gaining up to 15 to 20 feet in height and above 8 or 10 inches in width or thickness when matured.

It does not make a good plank, but, it makes a good fire wood.


Before embarking on the cocoa cultivation journey, it is great to first of all know the types or Varieties of cocoa and their characteristics, so that you make your choice on which type is best for you and your environment to grow.

There are three main types of cocoa, they are:

Forastero: Forastero is considered the most popular type of cocoa because it is grown by majority of the people in every country, so it accounts for about 80 percent of the world’s cocoa production.

This type of cocoa has the highest yield when cultivated, no wonder it is popularly known as the father of all cocoa.

Although Forastero is less aromatic when compared to Criollo, but it has it’s own level of cocoa smell and flavour.

Trinitario: This type is a descendant of both the Criollo and Forastero, but it belongs to Forasteros. Trinitario planting started in Trinidad and spread to Venezuela and then to Ecuador, Cameroon, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Java and Papua New Guinea etc.

Trinitario combines the hardiness of consumer cocoa with the pleasant flavours of luxury cocoa. Trinitario cocoa has a powerful, aromatic cocoa taste and is only slightly acidic

Criollo: This type of cocoa is known to be the best of amongst the types of Cocoa plant because is has a mild cocoa taste and a very strong cocoa aroma. It is only mild, acidic and has no atom of bitter taste at all.

This type or Variety of cocoa is very prone to diseases, especially fungal, this made it hard to grow and so very expensive to get.


Before thinking of starting a cocoa farm, the first thing to arrange for is a good land, cocoa unlike so many trees is not picky about the type of soil and weather condition they live in, but that does not mean they cant be affected by some certain things such as poor quality soil particles or nutrients, clay soil, wind and waterlogged land.

Although this plant is a lover of water, that’s why it requires good amount of rainfall of about 1,500mm to 2000mm per year, but it can only last for a short while in a waterlgged land, so when siting a farm land to grow Cocoa trees, the amount of rainfall in such place should be considered and the level of soil drainage should also be looked into, avoid waterlogged land!.


Wind is also a thing of concern to be looked into when selecting a land to grow cocoa, due to the fact that this plant is a very tall plant and wind could harm them, and also wind plays a very big role in drying the soil which is not good for this plant.

Some other things to consider in land selection is wether the place is exposed to good amount of sunshine as it is highly needed by cocoa plants.
Also the soil should be of good quality with a pH of 5.0 to 7.5, soil acid and alkaline should not exceed pH 3, anything above this could be catastrophic to the plants, the optimum total nitrogen / total phosphorus ratio should be about 1.5.

Cocoa is a big plant, so the land should be enough to contain the trees, although it solely depends on the quantity of cocoa products you want to be producing, but in my honest advise, to start this business, even to start with the minimum quantity, to start with the minimum quantity should be above a plot of land so that the trees could be spaced well enough.


Once a good land is sited, “from the above description of a suitable land conditions I gave above”, the the next step is to prepare it and make it ready for the cocoa farming.

To prepare the land, cut down any other tree or trees in the farmland, clear the bushes or forest, then spread a very good amount of organic manures, more especially animal dungs such as cow, goat, sheep and fowl dungs etc and leave them in the farm for rain to break them down into smaller particles and mix them with the soil so that it can boost the soil fertility which will in turn improve the overall growth of the cocoa trees.

The best time to prepare the land and start cocoa farming is at the beginning of the year when the rain is just starting, so that it will help the plants to grow to some certain level that the roots will be matured enough to give the trees enough water from the ground, so that you won’t have to water them frequently.

Like I mentioned earlier on this topic, cocoa likes water but it does not last long on a waterlogged land, so if the land is waterlogged, it is good to construct a good drainage system that will reduce the amount of water being stored in the land, this will help to retain good amount of water needed by the plants and reduce excess water.


When the land is prepared and ready, the next step to take is to plant them!

There are few methods of planting cocoa trees, they are:

Planting with the seed.: Planting cocoa with seed is the most common way to grow this tree, mainly because it seems simple or traditional, unlike the other method.

To grow cocoa with the seed, here are the steps, get good quality cocoa seeds from seeds stores ( Check below at the end of this content to see my remommended online seed store) or you can get cocoa fruit, lick them and get their seeds, this method is not very good compared to buying from seed stores which are of good quality and treated.

When the seeds have arrived, grow them in a container and transplant later or sow them in the farm directly.

To sow in the farm, dig holes of about 8 inches deep in the soil and give a gap of about 5 feet from each other, then sow them on a maximum of 1 each hole and cover them with earth.

To grow in a container, pour in large amount of good quality loam soil into the container and make holes of about 5 inches and sow the seeds.
Pour water at least once a day on them and take the container out to the sun once in a while.

When they sprout out and start growing, give them a few weeks or a month, then transplant them to the farm.

On an average, cocoa seed takes about 3 weeks to sprout and start growing.

Once they have been sown, water them immediately, and continue to do so if rain is not cooperating.

Planting with the stem/Cutting: This method of cocoa planting does not involve the seed, but the stem of cocoa tree.

It is very simple to do, go and cut some stems/ cocoa tree branches from cocoa trees with their leaves on the stems and get them into polyethylene, they will germinate and grow roots in a matter of weeks or even days depending on the weather and climate condition.

Once they are strong enough to be transplanted to the farm, then transplant them!.


Once the cocoa plants start growing, there are some number of things that are necessary to do in order for them to grow healthy and and also be protected, if not, they might have stunt growth, the yields might be nothing to talk about and they may also die which will be both waste of money, labor and time.

Some of the cares to be given to this tree are:

Irrigation: Water is a very necessary thing for this plant and it is one of the factors that must be involved for the survival of any plant.

Cocoa plant is a heavy drinker and a lover of water, “although it detests waterlogged land” , so having a good irrigation is very necessary, more especially for those in the non tropical regions of the world where there is minimal amount of rainfall.

The watering or irrigation process should start immediately the seeds are sown until they have matured enough and have started getting enough water from the soil through their roots.

Water them once in a day, in the dry season and in the non tropical regions when they are still small and reduce the rate to once in a week when they have grown, half a liter of water per tree is okay for the young plants and 5 liters is good for the grown up cocoa trees.

Mulch: mulch is another great strategy to care for the trees and also to reduce the work of watering.

This is very effective during their early days or their infant days, this time their roots have not fully developed and during the dry season, they tend to suffer from lack of water due to the dryness of the soil, so mulching will play a very vital role in sustaining the water in the soil and keeping the soil Fresh and cool.

Mulching does not only maintain the water in the soil, it also discourage weeds from growing around the trees and also serve as a compost manure when it decay.

To mulch, when the plants sprout out or germinate, allow them to grow a bit and then gather some green leaves and heap them around each of the plants and don’t cover the plants totally.

Note – mulching is very important only in the dry season and it should only be done when the plants are small because the trees will shield themselves when they grow.

Weeding: Weeding cocoa farm is another great ways to take care of them!

Although cocoa is a huge tree and weed should not be a problem once the plants have grown, but when weed becomes a problem is when the plants are still in their infant stage.

After the plants might have started growing, so many weeds might come out, so be sure to remove them immediately so that they don’t compete with the plants in terms of soil nutrients and water.

Remove them with weeding hoe or herbicide.

Fertilizing: Manure and Fertilizer is very important, although not as important as water, because this plant might survive without it if the soil is fertile enough.

But it is needed to improve the soil and grow the trees faster.

The process of the application of Fertilizer to cocoa farm should start before the planting of the trees by leaving organic manures on the empty land so that it could improve the soil.

Apply later in 4 or 5 months and the next one should be when they have started growing fruits.


Cocoa is know to be prone to some pests and diseases,that if not properly taken care of might incur into losses, some of them are:

Mirid bugs like Helopeltis are one of the most significant and frequent occurring pests of cocoa.
The cocoa pod borer is a major cocoa pest in many regions.

The Mealy bug is not the major pest itself, but is a well recognized vector for viruses of Cocoa.

In some regions, animals like rat, squirrel and monkeys might feed on the seeds and also on the fruits.

Caterpillar is another pest that do feed on the leaves.

Broad mite and Yellow peach moth are also cocoa pests.

To take care of the insects mentioned above, use insecticide and protect the cocoa seeds from animals by keeping them very well.

Some of the cocoa diseases are

Swollen Shoot Virus

Vascular Streak Dieback virus

Black Pod

Witches Broom fungus

Frosty Pod Rot fungus


On an average, cocoa tree takes about 3 or 4 years before it could be matured enough to start flowering and grow fruits, when the fruits are out, they will start getting ripe and when they do, they will turn from Green to yellow.

When they turn yellow, know that they are ready to be harvested!.

To harvest them, you can use garden ladder, climb on it, reach the cocoa fruits and pluck them with hands.

Or you can get the appropriate cocoa harvester and use it.

After harvesting, sell the fruits or open them yourself and get the seeds which is the valuable thing in cocoa fruit.


Like I have explained earlier in this article, cocoa is a very economic and cash crop plant, because the seed is used for many things such are the production of chocolate, ice cream, jelly etc, that’s why the Major buyers of the cocoa seeds are the industries.

The leaves are used in many cultures as a natural cure.

When cut down, the tree serves as a very good fire wood.



This article is a very well researched article and a proven guide, apply all I have taught and you will stand a very good chance to grow cocoa.

Although results are not topical!.

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