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Area of cocoa by holding type and cocoa production in Malaysia, 198096. After Malaysian Cocoa Monitor, June 1996, Malaysian Cocoa Board, Kota Kinabalu,

Malaysia. Copyright Cadbury Limited.

Area of cocoa by holding type and cocoa production in Malaysia, 198096. After Malaysian Cocoa Monitor, June 1996, Malaysian Cocoa Board, Kota Kinabalu,

Malaysia. Copyright Cadbury Limited.

Some large-scale plantings of cocoa continue in Indonesia, but the Indonesians have replaced all but their highest yielding fields with rubber and oil palm for the same reasons as in Malaysia. It is now clear that cocoa is not an easy crop to cultivate on a large-scale basis, but seems well suited to smallholder cultivation.

For some nine decades, global cocoa production has increased steadily and consistently to keep pace with the ever-increasing needs for cocoa beans. Consumption has increased on average by 3.5% per annum over recent years and is projected to increase by 1.53.3% per annum over the coming 5 years (4). A promising future for cocoa can be expected, as demand should show a steady rise from traditional, existing chocolate consumers with the possibility of substantial increases in usage in newer chocolate markets over coming years in South America, Eastern Europe, Russia, India, China and other parts of South-East Asia.

Botany of the Cocoa Plant

The cocoa tree belongs to the genus Theobroma, a group of about 20 species of small trees occurring wild in the Amazon basin and other tropical areas of Central and South America. T. cacao is the only one extensively cultivated, although increasing interest is being shown in cultivation of T. grandiflorum (Cupuassu) in certain parts of the Amazon, for use as flavouring for juices, ice creams and other foods (5). The centre of diversity of cocoa, and thus perhaps the origin of the species, seems to be the headwaters of the Amazon River, where wide morphological and physiological variation is demonstrated in the wild trees collected.

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