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Table 2.3 Some characteristics desired in future generations of cocoa planting material.

Desirable agricultural characteristics Desirable commercial characteristics Desirable local characteristics

Vigorous early growth Drought tolerance Early bearing Low, open branching habit High yield

Good chocolate flavour Good value for bean weight1 Shell content2 High fat content3 High number beans per pod Good weight of beans4

Tolerance/resistance to pests

Tolerance/resistance to diseases

Local adaptation (if appropriate) to: drought tolerance flavour tolerance local flavour5

soil types wind tolerance, etc.

1 Average bean weight of 93 beans/100 g (or 107 g per 100 beans).

2 Maximum shell content should be 1012%

3 Cocoa butter/fat content in the cotyledon should be above 55%.

4 Objective should be that a maximum of 15/16 pods are needed to produce 1 kg of dry, fermented cocoa; the successful breeding programme of Freeman in Trinidad has achieved results of 8/9 pods/kg (11).

5 For example, in case of a 'fine or flavour' cocoa producer.

minimum yield improvement of 25% over the existing material. In the past, this level of yield improvement has only rarely been achieved in new generations of cocoa planting materials and may explain why farmers often seem to prefer to continue with the old material Amelonado is still being planted in West Africa.

Corley (12) studied the physiological status of a number of tree crops and from this analysis estimated the potential yield of cocoa could be as high as 11 tonnes of dry bean per hectare, or a massive 23 times the current average yield of the smallholder in Ghana (probably 480 kg/ha) and 3.4 times the yield of some of the most productive plantings in South-East Asia; the best cocoa fields in Malaysia still only have 5-year mean yields of 3.2 tonnes. On this basis, there remains substantial scope for yield improvement of cocoa through breeding. In recent decades, there have been dramatic advances in the yield potential and productivity of a wide range of other tropical, temperate, annual and perennial crops; no such advances have been seen in cocoa average cocoa yields in West Africa are little higher than those recorded 2030 years ago. This is putting cocoa as a crop at a competitive disadvantage.

Age of Cocoa Trees

A high percentage of the world cocoa tree stock is of advancing age. Although there have recently been substantial new plantings in Cote d'Ivoire and Indonesia, there has been insufficient new planting elsewhere in West Africa. It seems that a significant proportion of the world's cocoa plantings are reaching, or have already reached, the end of their economic life. Economic life is hard to calculate, but a

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consensus opinion would probably be that in a field where most trees are around 40 years of age, there will be insufficient gross income to give a real rate of return on the capital employed. Some typical yield profiles are presented in Fig. 2.6.

As many of these smallholder farmers are the very people who initially planted the cocoa farms all those years ago, it is hardly surprising that many are now also of advanced years and are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their farms in the way they should.

Typical yield curve for traditional and hybrid planting material in (a) Cote d'lvoire and

Source: after Anon (l3). Copyright Cadbury Limited.

Typical yield curve for traditional and hybrid planting material in (a) Cote d'lvoire and

Source: after Anon (l3). Copyright Cadbury Limited.

Availability of Suitable Land

Since the earliest years of planting cocoa as a crop, it has tended to be planted following economic timber extraction from primary forest. This trend started in Central America, moving to South America, to West Africa, back to South America and now to South-East Asia. It seems that only in a few isolated cases was planting of cocoa ever the prime reason for this clearance of primary forest; timber extraction was the real reason. Much of the best land in the cocoa producing areas of South and Central America, West Africa and South-East Asia has now been planted either with cocoa or with other crops. Techniques for the successful replanting of such lands with a second crop of cocoa have not yet been developed; these are now very urgently needed for a wide variety of cocoa growing environments.

Lack of Credit Availability for Smallholders

The banking systems are simply unable to provide suitable seasonal or replanting credits for smallholder cocoa growers in any of the major growing areas. In many

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