Imagine that your father is a farmer. A group of youths touring Nigeria from abroad have asked you to explain the processes involved in preparing one of your father’s cash crops for export. Set out your explanations.
1. Harvesting of cocoa.
3. Drying and purifying. 5. Sale to the store-keeper.
4. Exportation and consequent processing.
How to Prepare Cocoa for Export
Cocoa, used for making various beverages, comes from the cocoa tree. It is about 35 feet in height, with many branches usually from a height of about five feet above the ground. It provides its own shade under its large umbrella of leaves. Cocoa pods containing the beans grow on the stem and branches.
As cocoa is produced only during the rainy season, harvesting is done between June and December. The farmer cuts off the pods, the children collect the pods in a place central enough; there the women do the less arduous task of taking the beans out of the pods.
The next step is that of the fermentation. This is very necessary because the fresh cocoa bean itself has a rather bitter taste, and should one use this for any beverage, the end product would be highly offensive to the mouth. To obtain the best result, the farmer must have a carefully constructed pit. Here, the beans would rest on a bed of banana
leaves which also line the sides of the pit. Also, banana leaves are used to cover the beans after which these are themselves covered with woods. Drying follows fermentation. The cocoa farmer worth his salt must have a permanent drying quarter. This is usually a rectangular concrete space, securely fenced to keep out goats and sheep. The beans are spread thinly on the concrete or tarpaulin so that the sun rays may find every bean. During the drying, refining goes on as well. Small stones, broken pods, leaves and other impurities are thrown out.
The farmer sells the cocoa to the store-keeper. Every farmer is conscious of the price of his cocoa. The price is fixed by the government at the beginning of every cocoa season. Once the store-keeper pays the farmer, the cocoa becomes his. once he has the cocoa graded by the government inspector, the cocoa becomes the government’s and the store-keeper is paid through a bank.
Of course, the government inspector is very careful about the quality of cocoa he grades. Cocoa which is not fully fermented, or is slightly moldy, or has some germinated beans will not qualify. All these are measures to ensure that the end product exported would sweep the board in any world market. Graded cocoa, always in standardized bags, is taken to Apapa Wharf from where it is shipped to the various beverage factories in Europe or America.