When I think or eat chocolate I think about the taste, texture and feeling. But what about the process from cocoa bean to bar. The first time I actually saw a cocoa pod was at my grandfathers farm when I was 13yrs old and took 2 cocoa pods back to UK which I used towards my Geography project. So recently I was fortunate to visit 3 farms in the Eastern region of Ghana all in 1 day for that cocoa experience. Cocoa from Ghana is said to be the finest quality in the world and 2nd largest exporter of cocoa after Ivory Coast.
From the cocoa experience I leant about 4 types of cocoa – Amelonado, Trinitario, Amazon, Hybrid.
ADJEIKROM – Cocoa Village
Travelled by several trotro to a town called Adjeikrom known for harvesting cocoa farms. We were greeted by Halid a tour guide that works at the tourist centre. He led us from the roadside for just a short stroll until we came to a stream where we had to walk over a unsafe plank of wood to the cocoa farm.
AKIM NEW TAFO
We then travelled to Tafo Central Research centre which was established in June 1938 at Akim Tafo in the Eastern region, Ghana. The main function was to investigate pest control, soil fertility and agricultural practices. But since 1966 has extended to include research in coffee, kola, shea nut and cashew. The aim is to generate additional income for farmers of skin care cosmetics and by-products.
The HQ of West African Cocoa Research Institute (WACRI) was established in 1944 and dissolved as inter-territorial basis (Nigeria, Sierra Leonne, and UK) after independence in 1962. The Ghana government took over the station and named it CRIG – Cocoa Research Institute Of Ghana where the HQ is in Akim, Tafo. Since 1984 it has been a division of the Ghana Coco Board.
Cocoa Plantation – The farms at CRIG provide different species of coco plant seedings to farmers. Also For the hybrid plants the skilled farmers attend the whole grounds to cross pollinate the hybrid buds by hand – a careful long skilled process. Also on the premises is a mix of variety cocoa pods where the beans are fermented then dried in the sun.
CRIG is a well-established grounds not just for cocoa production. A shop that sells alcoholic beverages, chocolate, cosmetics, biscuits made from cocoa bean, cashew or shea. There is also a golf course, gym, CRIG school, senior staff club house and various recreation activities. Oh and a dam that provides the water. It was a very long stroll around the grounds to witness all these provisions. But a very educative day.
Many reasons to consume Cocoa:
Reduce blood pressure
Rich in iron
Improve blood circulation
Dietary fibre and minerals
TETTEH QUASHIE farm
You cant mention cocoa without mentioning Tetteh Quashie born in 1842 from Teshie, Accra from the Ga-Dangme ethnic group. So we took a visit to Mampong, Akwapin where the Tetteh Quarshie cocoa farm is situated. Tetteh Quashie spent 6 years in Fernando Po Island off the coast of Equatorial Guinea and managed to travel back to Ghana in 1879 with Amelonado cocoa seedlings. Within the Mampong farm stands 2 original cocoa trees.
At a young age he became an apprentice at the Basel Mission workshop at Akropong, in Eastern region. He sadly died at an early age in 1892, before the production of export of 2 bags of cocoa beans in 1893
Crack open the hard shell of the pod. Inside a cocoa pod are beans covered in white fleshy substance which when eaten is sweet. However, as part of the cocoa process from pod to cocoa the fleshy part is left on the bean and fermented. Farmers use different way to Ferment (Heap Fermentation, Basket Fermentation, Tray fermentation). After 3 days the beans are then washed and dried naturally in the sun. When you bite into a bean, the taste is hard to describe – it has a bitter sweetless taste.
Cocoa seeds taste nice, before fermentation and after as a cocoa bean. So if you have only tasted the chocolate after production then you are missing out. When you are in Ghana please have a Cocoa Farm experience.
Happy Chocolate Day
bless Sister E (Naa Dzamah)