Where does Cacao grow and who are the farmers, the gardeners of the Cacao plant? What journey does Cacao undertake, from the flower to the wonderful rich drink enjoyed in ceremony? Read about the global & flow of Cacao, and how the future looks for Cacao on an economical and agricultural level.


World map showing Cacao producing regions.

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© World Cocoa Foundation


The Cacao and Chocolate Industry is facing hard times as the lack of supply threatens the future of the sector. The main reasons are that farming cacao is low paid and labour intensive and therefore not seen as an attractive future scenario for the young generation. The supply of cacao is in danger. Productivity has not improved over the years and thus the market has entered a period of a structural supply deficit.


At the same time a new generation of farmers is on it's way - they're using permaculture principles in alignment with Mother Nature, delivering to health stores and serving the growing demand of the health conscious community. 


Currently The Netherlands and Germany are the front runners in committing to sustainable cocoa consumption and creating national platforms for the promotion of sustainable cocoa and the exchange of information on activities in this context. Research shows that consumers of cacao would pay more for chocolate if they could be sure that they could make a difference and would benefit farmers.


Cacao Mama, Cacao Meditation, Raw Cacao, Ceremony, Berlin, Cacao Plantations, Bali


An industrial Cacao Nursery on the Ivory Coast. Sadly many independent farmers cannot afford new trees and must rely on their already matured trees, however these sometimes produce a lower yield of fruit as they age. Here you can see industrial farming on a large scale.


The Cacao plantation workers preparing to return to their duties as caretakers of the Cacao plants. Gender inequality within Cacao farming and child labour were important issues raised at the 2014 World Cocoa Conference. 

A farmer is nurturing and checking the delicate juvenile Cacao trees in an industrial plant nursery. These trees require a lot of care to ensure they reach maturity. Farmers face many challenges, including soil depletion, pests and diseases.


Cacao pods being opened. This is tough manual labour which must be done by hand. Not every pod can be used as many become inhabited by insects or can experience rot or decay from the inside. 

A farmer preparing to harvest some low growing ripe fruit. It takes 7-10 years for a tree to mature and bear fruits. In the main countries that produce Cacao such as Cameroon, The Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia and Nigeria there is a need to attract the younger generation into farming. 


The fresh and healthy Cacao beans are separated from the pods, and are then ready for fermentation. These Cacao beans have been left to dry naturally in the sun. Cacao is often fermented in wooden bins covered with banana leaves.

Industrial Cacao Farming Ivory Coast. | Credit: Annekatrin Loos 


  • 73% of the global supply is produced by four countries in West Africa only
  • Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia and Nigeria produce over 90% of the global cacao supply
  • In March 2012 a tonne of cacao cost $2.359, in December 2015 $3.345
  • Europeans & North Americans consume 70% of the worlds cacao.
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© A history of commitment to west african cocoa communities

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Picture: The Story of Chocolate

Watch the documentary

Cacao is facing enormous global challenges forming a complex development issue touching the social, economic and environmental level. Many districts in Ghana and the Ivory Coast started to devote themselves to growing Cacao. This is profitable for governments & international traders leaving the farmers at a subsistence level. Low wages force the farmers to employ children as labourers for the harvest as they can't afford external staff.

This leads to the worst effects of child labour. Children are kidnapped and subjected to plantations against their will. As slaves they are exposed to long  hours of physical work, a lack of education and the unprotected use of chemicals and pesticides. Cheap prices in the cocoa industry give small farmers with very low income no choice but to withdraw their children from school and sending them to the plantations.

With low access to education and frequent absences in schools, the families are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty. The cocoa producers have little bargaining power against the few large multinational companies that control the supply chain and ultimately determine the existence of the peasant families. Heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and aluminium will be a major concern for the industry in the production of chocolate in the future.

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Source: The Cocoa Barometer Published under Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
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For those who want to know more about the global cocoa production & trafficking please visit Make Chocolate Fair!


Three children live and work in agricultural communities in Central America. Director: Adam Pajot Gendron | Link Culture Unplugged