Through The Lens, Trinidad & Tobago

Cocoa Drying

January 07, 2007

Cocoa Drying

Cocoa has been planted in Trinidad and Tobago for almost 500 years and was a major contributor to the islands' prosperity for over 200 years, from the mid-1700s through to the early 1900s. The hilly lands of the Northern and Central Ranges in Trinidad, and the inland mountainous regions of Tobago proved ideal for cocoa plantations and the islands became globally recognised as a source of premium cocoa.

During the fifty year period between 1870 and 1920, the industry became known as “King Cocoa” as it surpassed sugar cane as the country's leading agricultural product. This was largely due to the discovery of methods of refining the cocoa into edible chocolate suitable for various confections including the now ubiquitous chocolate bar.

Post 1920, the industry suffered from a glut on the global market and competition from other parts of the world including West African plantations. However despite its reduced prominence in the local economy, Trinidad and Tobago cocoa remains among the finest in the world and is highly sought after by fine European confectioners and chocolatiers. According to one German connoisseur, only 5 per cent of the 3.5 million tons of cocoa yielded worldwide is high-grade cocoa of the kind that comes from Tobago!

The Cocoa Research Unit at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (Trinidad) has published a History of Cocoa Production in Trinidad & Tobago.

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