Posts Tagged ‘africa’

Cocoa Production: Ghana

Well I thought it was about time that we took a closer look at some of the biggest chocolate producing countries. As Ghana produces somewhere in the region of one-quarter of the world’s cocoa beans, I figured this would be a good place to start. Cocoa is an extremely important part of the country’s economy and it has been grown here since the mid 1900s.

Ghana was at one time the world leader in terms of cocoa production but it was hit by a dramatic drop in prices on the world market in the 1970s. This forced many producers to abandon cocoa production altogether in favor of more lucrative crops. However, as prices stabilized and production was encourage, people have been tempted back to the wonderful cocoa tree and the country is back up to the top of world production.

One of the reasons for the success of Ghana in the cocoa production stakes is probably the fact that it produces some top-quality cocoa beans. Most of this is exported to other countries and made into chocolate. In fact, much of the cocoa produced around the world is grown for export: the countries that make the most chocolate don’t actually grow the trees themselves, as they don’t have the right climate.

As with other African cocoa producers, most of the cocoa beans grown in Ghana are from smallholdings. There are somewhere in the region of two million cocoa farms in Ghana, which sounds like an incredible number but when you consider that most of them only produce a relatively small amount, it makes sense. Many farmers are at the mercy of fluctuating world prices and this can have a dramatic impact on their livelihood from one year to the next.

The Main Cocoa Growing Regions

Despite originating in Central and South America, cocoa is now grown in a much larger area and the biggest producers are actually in West Africa. This is due to the expansion of production and the opening of new markets. It’s all down to supply and demand really and people will always want chocolate. It’s one of those products that works on two levels.

It can be fantastically expensive and saved for an extremely special occasion or it can just be a simple treat – a bar of chocolate bought from the newsagents at the end of a busy day. For that reason, it will always be popular and it was necessary to find new areas to produce it. Currently, there are eight major cocoa producing countries in the world. They are:

Ivory Coast

There are obviously countless others but these are the big players and the ones that supply most of the world’s cocoa beans. Production does tend to change year on year and will very much depend on the climatic conditions and the harvest for that particular year.

However, The Ivory Coast and Ghana tend to produce around half of all the cocoa, which is the equivalent to a whole lot of chocolate bars. It’s quite nice to know, however, that most of the cocoa produced in Africa is grown on relatively small farms, rather than huge plantations. These farms tend to be owned and run by families, ensuring that profits can be fed back into the family business.