Cocoa, also known as cacao, has been an essential crop in Ecuador since pre-Columbian times. The country has a long history of cocoa production, and the crop has played a significant role in the country’s economy for centuries. 

In this article, we will explore the history of cocoa production in Ecuador, the endemic species of cocoa, the regions where it grows, its economic importance, its superfood properties, and a visit to a community of cocoa growers in Ecuador.

History of cocoa production in Ecuador

Cocoa was first cultivated in Ecuador over 5,000 years ago by the indigenous people of the region. They used cocoa beans as currency, food, and medicine. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they introduced new varieties of cocoa to Ecuador, which led to an increase in production and exports to Europe. In the 19th century, cocoa became a significant source of income for Ecuador and a critical crop in the country’s economy.


Regions where cocoa grows

Cocoa is grown in several regions of Ecuador, including Esmeraldas, Manabi, Los Rios, Guayas, El Oro, and Sucumbios. These regions are known for their fertile soils, warm temperatures, and high humidity, which provide ideal conditions for cocoa cultivation.

Endemic species of cocoa

Ecuador is home to a variety of endemic species of cocoa. The most famous of these is the Nacional variety, which is renowned for its exquisite aroma, flavor, and texture. Nacional is considered to be one of the finest cocoa varieties in the world and is highly sought after by chocolate makers worldwide.

Economic importance

Cocoa is a crucial crop in Ecuador’s economy. The country is the world’s third-largest exporter of cocoa, after Ivory Coast and Ghana, and it accounts for approximately 5% of the country’s GDP. The cocoa industry employs thousands of people in Ecuador, providing income and livelihoods for many families.

Superfood properties of cocoa

Cocoa is considered a superfood due to its high content of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. It is also rich in flavonoids, which have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, improving cognitive function, and reducing inflammation.


Visit to a community of cocoa growers in Ecuador

A visit to a community of cocoa growers in Ecuador is an unforgettable experience. One such community is the Kallari Cooperative, located in the Napo region of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The Kallari Cooperative is made up of over 850 members who produce high-quality organic cocoa using traditional methods.

During a visit to the Kallari Cooperative, visitors can learn about the process of cocoa cultivation, from planting to harvesting to processing. They can also witness the community’s traditional ceremonies and rituals, which are an essential part of their culture.

In conclusion, cocoa production has a rich history in Ecuador and continues to be a crucial crop in the country’s economy. The country’s unique endemic species of cocoa, its ideal growing conditions, and the health benefits of cocoa make it a valuable commodity worldwide. A visit to a community of cocoa growers in Ecuador provides an opportunity to learn about the traditional methods used to produce high-quality cocoa and to witness the culture and customs of the communities that rely on this crop for their livelihoods.