Growing Cocoa

HISTORY OF CACAO IN SIERRA LEONE
How and when cacao was introduced into Sierra Leone is not exactly known. It seems likely, however, that cocoa was introduced to Sierra Leone much earlier than to other parts of West Africa, possibly by the Portuguese who are known to have introduced the coconut palm and pineapples into Sierra Leone in the 15th and 16th centuries.

In 1890, it was estimated that there was 202 hectares (500 acres) of cacao in Sierra Leone. 304kg of cocoa beans were exported in that year, presumably there were still small exports.

There were two further introductions of cacao unto Sierra Leone from the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1905 and 1912 to the Agricultural experimental farm at Njala. Seedlings raised from the 1912 introductions died out because of draught. Kailahun district takes the lead Kono district is currently increasing cocoa plantations throughout planting

BOTANY
Cacao belongs to the family sterculiodea. The scientific name Theobroma cacao was given to the species by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Theobroma means “food for the gods”

UTILIZATION
Manufacture of cocoa drink, chocolate, cocoa butter and cocoa oil, preparation of illicit gin, use in the preparation of soap
However, little domestic use for cocoa is found in the main producing areas of Sierra Leone, where the emphasis is mainly on export. There are however, some local uses which seem to be fairly general in Sierra Leone.

MAJOR AREAS OF PRODUCTION
Cocoa is grown mainly in the South Eastern parts of the country, but the areas of highest density are in the Kailahun, Kenema and Kono Districts in the Eastern Province. In the South, Bo, Moyamba, Bonthe and Pujehun Districts.

VARIETIES GROWN IN SIERRA LEONE
Amelonado, Amazon (Ghana Cacao)

COCOA OF MARKETABLE QUALITY
• Cocoa of marketable quality must be properly fermented, thoroughly dry, free from smoky beans, free from abnormal or foreign odors and free from any evidence of adulteration.
• It must be reasonably free from living insects.
• It must be reasonably uniform in size, reasonably free from broken beans fragments and pieces of shell, and be virtually free from foreign matter.

GRADING STANDARDS
Based on the count of defective beans in the cut test, defective beans shall not exceed the following limits: to be considered fit for export.

GRADE 1
• Moldy beans should not exceed 3% by count.
• Salty beans should not exceed 3% by count
• Insects damaged, germinated, or flat beans (other defects) 3% by count.

GRADE II
Cocoa which does not qualify for grade one (1) but which contains not more than 4% mold, 6% slate and 8% other defects by count.

SUB-STANDARD COCOA
All other cocoa which does not qualify for grade I and II, declared fit for export under rule 75 of CAP 18 are referred to as sub-standard grade.`