Early Cocoa Production in Grenada

Prior to the 18th century, cocoa production spread through the Caribbean islands of Trinidad, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Vincent and Jamaica. It was a little slower getting to the island of Grenada. In the 18th and 19th centuries, however, Grenada became the hub of British cocoa production. In 1753, it was recorded that there were only 150,300 Theobroma cacao trees on Grenada. When the British took over control of the island in 1763, there were 42 estates that grew Theobroma cacao as well as coffee with a 3:4 ratio. Thirteen years later, more estates began growing Theobroma cacao. Just after this time, upheaval on the island in way of slave rebellion, a hurricane that devastated the island, a plague of red ants and an influx of foreign settlers limited the amount of cocoa production in Grenada.

Once the slaves were freed, the amount of cocoa produced in Grenada sunk even lower. There were no laborers for the cocoa plantations. At this point in time, Grenada was producing about a quarter of a million pounds of cocoa per year. Enter the age of the Theobroma cacao small farmer. Ex-slaves began to grow Theobroma cacao as a small-holder crop. There was an increase in acreage and production in the 1860s. Between 1856 and 1886, there was a ten-fold increase in cocoa production in Grenada all due to former slave cocoa farmers.

In 1851, 1,130 acres were devoted to growing Theobroma cacao. By 1891, 12,607 acres were devoted to growing Theobroma cacao. During the year 1831, 337,903 pounds of cocoa were produced on the Caribbean island of Grenada and by the end of 1886 almost 5 millions pounds of cocoa was produced. A huge growth in rather a short amount of time. 79 percent of the cocoa was produced in the parishes of St. Mark and St. John. Theobroma cacao grew well for the farmers in Grenada and gained further momentum in the 19th century. Today, Grenada continues to play an important role in the world of chocolate with many companies, including the Grenada Chocolate Company and Rococo Chocolates using the beans of the Theobroma cacao to produce some of the world’s best dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

Annmarie Kostyk, Chocolate Goddess

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