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This crop called Cocoa is a tropical crop. Cocoa is popularly known in West Africa, Nigeria and Ghana are among the leading producers. This crop is believed to have been introduced in Nigeria from Fernando PO (Portugal) in 1874. The following are the major parts of Nigeria where Cocoa can be found; Ekiti, Cross River State (Ikom, Etung Local government areas), Edo, Ondo, etc.

The following are what Cocoa is used for:

        1. Cocoa is really a valuable ingredient for beverages.

        2. Cocoa husks are used for feeding livestock.

        3. Cocoa can be used to manufacture medicinal powder.

        4.  It can also be used to produce body cream.

        5. Cocoa can be used as cake fillers in cake industries.

        6. Cocoa is also used in coating ice-cream.

        7. Cocoa is made into chocolate for biscuit, crackers, etc.

        8. Cocoa can also be extracted and used for drugs.

        9. Cocoa can also be fermented into wines and other alcoholic drinks.

Steps on how to start Cocoa farming in Nigeria

The propagation: This crop is propagated by seeds and by any vegetative means which also includes budding, grafting cutting and layering.

The selection of land and preparation: The key to cocoa farming or cocoa production is getting a good and suitable land. This crop actually requires a favorable climate and soil for optimum yields. After considering the land area, the land must be cleared properly, this involves cutting down any already present trees in the land.

The field maintenance: The field maintenance practices in cocoa farming are:

       1. The provision of shade during the establishment phase which is about two to three years before the canopy closes.

       2. Mulching plants: Mulching in the cocoa field is normally done in October before the rain ceases, the transplanted plants are mulched 60cm-90cm wide with about 15cm deep layer of mulch place 15cm from the base of the tree plant.

      3. Weed control: Normally weeding is usually done on small-scale holdings. Although in large scale production where fields are involved, row weeding is carried out 3 times followed by four to five slashing.

      4. Pruning of plant: Under normal condition pruning is carried out between May-June when the cocoa tree is two to three years, using a sharp cutlass.

Harvesting of the Cocoa: Cocoa starts to produce fruits at four to five years up to thirty-five years. The harvesting of Cocoa is carried out with sharp machetes. Harvesting cocoa with a short knife handle depends on the height the tree has attained. A sharp knife must be used to actually avoid damage to the bark of the tree and the flower cushion.

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