7 reasons to consider cocoa farming in Uganda

By Uganda Investment Authority

Three main varieties of cocoa are grown in Africa:

  1. Criollo
    When Criollo pods are ripe, they are long, yellow or red, with deep furrows and big warts.
    This variety does not produce as much as the others but the cocoa is of very good quality.
  2. Forastero (Amelonado)
    The pods are short, yellow, smooth without warts, with shallow furrows.
    This variety produces well, but the quality is not as good as Criollo. It is grown a lot in Africa.
  3. Trinitario
    This variety is a cross between Criollo and Forastero.
    The pods are long or short, red and yellow.
    It yields cocoa of fairly good quality.

Cocoa production in Uganda has seen a steady increase over the last few years. Table 1 shows the Trade Indicators for cocoa and cocoa preparations.

Table 1: Trade Indicators 
Year Exported value (USD Thousands)
2010 35,382
2011 44,893
2012 38,718
2013 55,051
2014 59,742
Exported growth in value between 2010-2014 (%, p.a.) 13

“The next step is value addition. We are incurring high costs of transporting unprocessed cocoa beans. As a country we should be exporting semi-processed products like cocoa powder and butter.  When cocoa is exported in that form its price is double that of unprocessed cocoa beans because cocoa powder and butter is on high demand on the international market.” Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries.


Benefits of cocoa and cocoa preparations

  1. Market for cocoa products.
    People grow cocoa trees in order to sell the cocoa beans that are in the pods.
    The kernel of the cocoa beans is used to make cocoa and chocolate.
    In the countries of Europe and North America people eat a lot of cocoa and chocolate.
    But the cocoa tree does not grow in their countries; they buy cocoa from Africa.
  2. Start up support – opportunity to access free seedlings.
    There is a need to increase cocoa production in Uganda. A case in point, is ICAM Uganda Ltd which is supposed to export 5,000 tonnes of cocoa beans to ICAM Chocolate Italy Ltd but can only manage to export 2,000 tonnes annually. The company is trying to encourage more farmers to join the cocoa business through provision of free cocoa seedlings and offering seminars on how to grow the crop.Through the Cocoa Development Project (CDP), the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, is to give out over a million seedlings to farmers across the country.
    This is aimed at boosting production.
  3. Uganda’s climate is suitable for cocoa production.
    Cocoa is a perennial crop that responds well in rainy tropical areas, with a maximum annual average of 30 – 32ºC. It thrives under shades and in areas with annual rainfall between 1,500mm to 2,000mm.Districts where the conditions are suitable for cultivation are mainly: Mukono, Buikwe, east of Kampala, western Uganda districts of Bundibugyo and Masindi.
  4. Anytime is harvest time.
    Coffee has two harvesting seasons a year but with cocoa every time is harvesting season. It is only the amount of cocoa that goes up or down depending on the season.
  5. Research into better varieties.
    The CDP is pushing for planting of hybrid cocoa varieties which mature earlier and are resistant to pest and diseases. This will help reduce the cost of production while also encouraging more farmers to grow the crop.
  6. Multi-billion dollar industry.
    It was a Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, who classified cocoa and renamed it Theobroma Cocoa (“theo” being Greek for “god” and “broma” derived from the Latin “brosi” meaning “food”).
  7. Health benefits.
    As early as the 16th century, publications about the medicinal benefits of cocoa were already present. It was used for treating fever and dysentery, improving heart, kidney and liver strength and improving longevity. Petals from the flower were used to treat skin problems, burns and stomach ailments. Today, countless studies continue to appear in medical journals extolling its healing properties.


 “Farmers need to be trained on how to grow the crop because it is a specialized crop. Once farmers are equipped with the necessary skills on how to grow cocoa and process it, we shall see the sector progressing,” Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries.