We do not tell you anything new if we say cocoa is scarce. Consumption of this delicious brown bittersweet product, called chocolate, is rising around the globe. Here in Nicaragua cocoa is hot. Everybody is interested in it; everybody wants to invest in cocoa, from producers to development agencies, government and private sector actors. But how should these investments be oriented? Which strategy should Nicaragua choose to take advantage of its potential and ensure a decent living for the 10.000 cocoa producers in the country? That is the question. At VECO MA, we, together with our partners and cocoa producers, hope to have part of the answer.
Cocoa is as old as the history of Central America. The Mayas made a bitter drink of it, which they offered to Christopher Columbus upon his arrival although he did not seem to be very impressed by the taste. Cocoa was also used as money in Nicaragua and thus became the only drinkable money in the world.
The potential of cocoa in Nicaragua is enormous: an estimated 350.000 ha are suitable for cocoa production. Moreover, the quality of the cocoa in Nicaragua is excellent. And with the right strategy it could be a major asset of the country. The fine taste of nuts, flowers or fruits (thanks to its creole variety) makes the cocoa potentially a very high value product on the international market. If the cocoa market is booming, the specialty market (for gourmet and fine cocoa) is booming even more, growing at a rate between 12 to 16 % per year, worth around 200 millions USD.