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How To Grow Cocoa For Profit

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The seedlings take six months to grow before they are transplanted at the onset of the first rains (in March-April-May) or in the second rains (October-November-December).

The spacing should be 3mx3m (10ftx10ft) and the planting hole 2ftx2ft deep and wide. This helps to soften the roots of a growing Cocoa seedling not to hit the hardpan.

Henry Lwanga, a retired agricultural officer and a renowned cocoa farmer at Mindi village in Kasawo sub-county, Mukono district, pots over 60,000 seedlings every year during the dry season (October and November) using the top forest (alluvial) soils.

The composition of the soil has to be neutral, neither acid nor alkaline. 

He says manure can be applied if it is available. With such spacing, you will have 450 trees in an acre. Once the seedlings are established, the farmers must watch them closely for signs of distress like thin stems, affected leaves among others.

Cocoa trees need shade, therefore, they should be planted under mature tall tropical trees or intercropped with bananas and coffee trees, beans, and Musizi trees to control wind and strong tropical sunlight at a spacing of 20ft x 20ft (32 trees per acre). 

After-care 

Slash the undergrowth to keep the plantation free from weeds. Carry out shallow or hand weeding or slashing around the plant and always be careful not to harm the roots. When the cocoa canopy establishes, it will suppress grass or any plant beneath it. 

A cocoa tree should have five branches for it to give you the best harvest and requires filtered sunlight through trees. It is important to prune the cocoa tree during the early stages.

Sustainable management of shade trees like; musizi, grumixana, sapote, and breadfruit allows the farmer to earn extra income from timber and fruits. It also maintains or increases cocoa bean production each year.

Lwanga in his cocoa nursery bed

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