Ghana: Cocoa Plantations

The botanical name of cocoa is Theobroma cacao, meaning “the food of the gods,” derived from its use in rituals by the Maya and Olmec people of Central America. Brought to the Old World by Spanish explorers, cocoa is now grown in warm, wet equatorial forests globally. Master blacksmith Tetteh Quarshie brought the first cocoa beans to the Ghana (then Gold Coast) in 1879, from the island of Fernando Po (now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea). He established a farm at Akuapim-Mampong, north of Accra, where a few of his original trees are reputed to remain. Friends and family propagated seeds from the first pods, soon establishing cocoa as a staple crop. Cuttings from Ghanaian cocoa trees were sent to other countries in Anglophone West Africa, founding cocoa production in Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Since Quarshie planted his seeds, Ghana has become one of the world’s largest cocoa exporters of cocoa, at one time providing about half of the world’s supply.