What started with a modest cultivation in 1990s has transformed Andhra Pradesh into a leading producer of cocoa in the country now. The State’s cocoa production stood at 10,903 metric tonnes (MT) during 2020-21 as against the total production of 27,072 MT in the country.
Identifying its potential, the State government has been promoting cocoa cultivation in a big way.
Cocoa is being promoted as an intercrop in the State and the awareness about its profitability has been rising among coconut and palm farmers. With improved technology and higher yields, the cross cultivation between coconut, arecanut and other palms has resulted in an increased profitability for farmers and popularity for the programme, say officials.
Cocoa is grown primarily as an intercrop in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala as the tree requires 40 to 50% shade. Coconut, arecanut, oil palm and rubber plantations are suited for an intercrop. The total area under cultivation in the four southern States at the end of 2005-06 was 29,471 hectares. It rose to 99,004 hectares by 2020-21. Of this, Andhra Pradesh’s share was 11,830 in 2005-06 and 37,488 hectare in 2020-21, they say.
Horticulture Commissioner Chiranjeev Choudhary says that cultivating cocoa as an intercrop with coconut and oil palm is very lucrative.
Cocoa farmers like M. Srimannarayana Raju of Velagaduru village and S. Gopala Krishna of Kuchimpudi village in West Godavari district are scripting success stories. The yield has increased up to 1,400 kg per hectare from a mere 750 kg due to adoption of technology. The net income per hectare has increased up to ₹1.90 lakh from ₹90,000, he says.
Mr. Choudhary says that the State government has been extending financial support for production and plant material to post-harvest technology. It is promoting public private partnership (PPP) projects for production and marketing.