Thousands of people use Cocoa products, such as body cream, cocoa beverages and daily eat chocolates, yet don’t know the raw material used to manufacture chocolate products or how a Cocoa pod or bean looks like.
Stage One: Ripe Cocoa pods ready for harvest.
A journalist holding a Cocoa pod stops a few people on the street find out what it is. Nobody was able to say what it was. Some said pawpaw and one said mango, that’s shocking because there is a big difference between mango and a Cocoa pod.
Ivory Coast is the leading country in West Africa producing 1.6 million tons of cocoa beans every year, making the country the world’s largest exporter, followed by Ghana. Other countries in Africa where Cocoa is grown is Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which together represent more than 70% of world cocoa production.
In Africa Cocoa is also produced in Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome & Principe. Every year thousands of tons of Cocoa beans are exported to Europe and America, which are processed to different consumer products, such chocolate bars, cosmetic products and drinks.
Cocoa trees begin to bear fruit when they are three to four years old, seldom reaching more than 7.5 meters (25 feet) high. There are two harvests in a year when the fruit is ripe. A split Cocoa pod has the beans embedded in a soft white jelly sweet tissue, which are dried in the sun. During fermentation the pulp which becomes a liquid drain away leaving behind the beans.
The dried beans become raw material for the manufacture of Cocoa products such as chocolate, fertilizer for cocoa, vegetables, food crops, soft drinks, alcohol, Jam, marmalade and other products. It is also widely used in cosmetic products such as moisturizing creams and soaps. In the picture is a full and half pods of Cocoa with fresh beans, when the beans are dry, from which chocolate is derived.
There are many Health benefits of consuming Cocoa Products, following the discovery that they are a rich source of catechins, which are polyphenols of the flavanol group, and which are believed to protect against heart disease, cancer, and various other medical conditions.
On the skin, Cocoa butter is high in antioxidants, which help fight free radical, that is stresses and signs of aging. Women, especially Africans claim that Cocoa butter help to reduce stretch marks.