An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Cacao or Cocoa?

I had a little lesson last weekend. I went to a cacao plantation. Cacao what?

I never really bothered wondering what cocoa looks like in it's natural state. It had not crossed my mind what the source for chocolate was. I have now been brought up to speed.

Cocoa beans are from a pod from the cacao tree. When the pod is ready it turns yellow. They hang limply from the tree from the truck or branches.

Boys working for the plantation walk around all day and collect the ripe pods. They then crack (or slice) the pods open and gather the beans, wash off all the whitish slime and dry them.

A cacao pod cracked open

The drying is done on a huge tray, which can be covered by a sliding roof on a track. The beans are left sweating in the sun for a few days, being raked over, where the outer husks ferment and peel off (I learned this bit from the Wikipedia article).

This is about the extent of what happens at the plantation. The beans are shipped off to wherever and get turned into the chocolate that everybody loves. PNG by the looks of it has a good export business happening in this regard.

Interesting to note (from Wikipedia) that the Netherlands are the worlds leading processor of cocoa beans, but Belgium is the leading consumer at 5.5kg per person a year. At least those two lead the world in something.