Crop history - Cocoa

     

    Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) a native of Amazon base of South America got its entry into India in the early half of the 20th century. Administratively it is conferred plantation status like coffee, tea and rubber but is seldom recognized as a plantation crop under the Indian Agrarian Administrative Sector.  Cocoa beans is the primary raw material for confectioneries, beverages, chocolates and other edible products. The commercial sector of cocoa in India hardly takes place in a major way in the international export trade. Majority of the processed cocoa products are consumed within India. The tropical diversified congenial climate available in India provides immense scope for its cultivation.

    Cocoa is hardly grown as a mono crop. Its imminent capacity to share the alley spaces of tall growing Coconut and Arecanut palms and its combining ability with the microclimatic conditions available in such perennial gardens helps its cultivation in utilizing such areas without exacting for an independent growing climate of its own. In any groves of tall growing palms where 40-50% sunlight penetration is possible, cocoa stands first to absorb such solar energy, remaining symbiotic to the main crop and generating additional income as well, besides helping the amelioration of the soil conditions making beneficial not only for its own growth but also for the benefit of the main crop under which it takes its shelter. 

    Kerala was the leading State in promoting cocoa cultivation. Massive area coverage was possible through distribution of cocoa seedlings. There was an attractive price for cocoa pods and beans prevalent till 1980's. This favourable situation, coupled with large scale distribution of planting materials could bring about an enviable area coverage recording 29,000 ha under cocoa by 1980-81. Being a crop subjected to the monopolistic exploitation of the available industrial unit, however paved ways for fall in price in 1981-82 and 1982-83. Inadequate marketing network and the fall in price developed a sense of insecurity among the planting communities, which detrimentally affected its expansion besides attributing to a neglectful approach by the plantation community. The entry of CAMPCO towards the marketing scenario from 1990's, though formed a favourable atmosphere, the services rendered towards procurement of cocoa was far below the requirement. 

    From 1997-98 onwards the non-traditional tracts of Karnataka and other States like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu started developing cocoa. During the implementation of 11th and 12th Five Year Plan programmes there has been a large scale distribution of hybrids and High Yielding Varieties of Cocoa which has helped in increased the area and production of this crop.


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