Cocoa – Cacao


NEWS (2016)

Cocoa in Nicaragua

Imports and Exports in Nicaragua.

Although Nicaragua is a large exporter of coffee and gold, it exports relatively little cocoa or chocolate. Very few people think of Nicaragua when they think of cocoa producing countries around the world. For my final project, I decided to explore more about cocoa production in Nicaragua as a possible source of income for the country.

Ritter Sport

Ritter Sport is a German chocolate producer that sells 60,000 metric tons of chocolate in 93 countries. The German country recently invested US$25 million in Nicaragua to promote the production and exportation of cocoa in Nicaragua.

A Strategic Crop

Cocoa is a “strategic crop” in Nicaragua because it is relatively easy to grow and suitable in Nicaragua’s terrain and climate. Cocoa also has a lot of potential for generating more income in Nicaragua. In the past year, cocoa exports have generated US$4.2 million in profits for Nicaragua.

We can see from the infographic above that the RAAN produces the most cocoa compared to the other Nicaraguan territories. The RAAN cultivated 6,261 manzanas (1 manzana = 1.75 acre) of cocoa, just under a half of all cocoa plants cultivated in Nicaragua. The RAAN’s bosowas and mountainous region makes it an extremely suitable place for cocoa plants.
Between 2012 and 2013, exports of cocoa have increased by 9% with the income generated from the exports increasing by 38%. The national production of cocoa is currently 61,500 quintals (1 quintal = 100kg) a year with an average yield of 5.71 quintals per manzana. 10,750 manzanas are currently being used in cocoa planting with an additional 9,200 mansions in development. The price of cocoa has risen by 31.17% between 2012 and 2013. With the rise in price, cocoa producers will benefit from the income boost. There are currently 39 cocoa cooperatives that exist in Nicaragua and about 7,500 families are dedicated to the cultivation of this crop. For many families, cocoa production is the main source of income for the household.

The Risks

There are risks involved with cocoa production. Threats of climate change are worrisome for cocoa producers as a year’s crop can easily be destroyed by a change in climate. Cocoa producers are particularly worried about the abundant rainfall that falls in the RAAN, the largest cocoa producing region. Excessive rain in the RAAN can cause a macroscopic impact on Nicaragua’s exports of cocoa. Although there is a lot of potential for income and growth of cocoa production in the RAAN, there is also tremendous risks involved.

Ideal Land

Nicaragua has suitable land to cultivate cocoa in almost all parts of the country, from coast to coast. More than 500 thousand manzanas can be potentially cultivated under systems of agroforestry.

Increasing Production

The 2014-2015 production plan set by the Nicaraguan government is to cultivate 13 thousand manzanas to produce 128 thousand quintals of cococa. The “Desarrollo del Cacao” program lead by the government includes encouraging the seeding of 60 thousand manzanas under a system of agroforestry in the RAAN, RAAS, and central regions of the country. However, it is important to note that there are possible environmental ramifications of increased cocoa production as many natural forests and areas of land would have to be cleared out and replaced by cocoa plants.

Giving Added Value

In addition to chocolate, cocoa can be used to make liquor, wine, pastries and more. Many producers are beginning to focus on theses specialty products made out of cocoa. By advertising cocoa products, the demand for cocoa would increase even further and cocoa producers would be able to scale up production and gain from the extra income.

Tourism to more rural parts of the country have also increased. Cocoa producers have begun profiting off the increased tourism, creating more cocoa products to be sold domestically.

Increasing Efficiency

A possible way of increasing efficiency in cocoa yields is by installing a local collection center to ferment, dry and process the cocoa in batches instead of having each individual cocoa grower conduct the process themselves. This method would generate more jobs and increase income for cocoa families. Cocoa producers would be able to increase their capacity to produce to 30 quintals a day. Additionally, they would be able to increase exports and enter the competitive international market.

Salve a ti, Nicaragua. Nicaragua Cross Cultural Education and Service Program (CCESP) 2014