COCOA SUSTAINABILITY PARTNERSHIP

Frequently Asked Questions features a list of questions and answers that will facilitate understanding of the cocoa world.
The various topics are organised alphabetically in various categories and have been answered by cocoa experts.
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Cocoa is made by processing the dried seeds which can be found within the pods hanging from the cocoa tree. The cocoa tree has long been linked to the Mayan and other ancient civilisations in Mesoamerica. However, a recent genetic research led by Omar Cornejo, a Washington State University population geneticist, revealed in October 2018 that the Criollo variety (the world’s most coveted variety of cocoa) actually originated and was first domesticated in Northern Ecuador, but was later on fully domesticated in Central America about 3,600 years ago.

In a nutshell, Criollo was found to have first been domesticated in South America (present-day Ecuador), and not in Central America as previously thought.

The Cocoa tree, which belongs to the genus Theobroma, a group of about 20 species of small trees found in the wild in the Amazon basin and other tropical areas of Central and South America, grows best in tropical regions, on a belt between approximately 20° north and 20° south of the Equator. Most cocoa is grown at an altitude of less than 400 metres (1,200 feet) above sea level. Ideal temperatures are between 18°C and 32°C (65°F to 90°F). Rainfall should be at least 1,000 mm but not more than 3,000 mm (400 to 1,100 inches) per year. For optimal production, the tree requires protection from direct sunlight and excessive winds.

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