Pollachi, known in Tamil as Pozhil Vaitchi meaning land blessed with stunning natural beauty, wealth and prosperity is famous for its innumerable cocoa plantations and delicious world-famous bar chocolates. Owing to its proximity to the Western Ghats, Pollachi has the ideal climate (hot summers, cool winters and adequate annual rainfall) to grow cocoa.
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) is intercropped with traditional crops like coconut, areca nut and nutmeg to ensure that the land is healthy. The farmers are pioneers in organic and ‘zero-budget’ cultivation encouraged by the Central Gov. Mixed cropping or multi-layer farming is implemented to use the abundant natural resources to the maximum. A healthy mix of cow urine and cow dung is used as fertilizer and neem leaf extracts are used as a pest repellent. The dried leaves from the cocoa plant enrich the soil and help retain its moisture.
Indian cocoa has a very distinctive taste and is easily one of the best in the world. Most of the farmers are actively involved in every process from growing cocoa trees to the harvesting of large yellow cocoa fruits to its processing as powder, chocolate bars and other value-added products like chocolate spread, biscuits, cookies, candy and others.
It is estimated that the majority of the harvest is processed for export and more than 100 (up to 900) kg of chocolate is produced every month from the raw beans! The demand for craft chocolate is steadily increasing in the world and the exquisite chocolate produced in Pollachi fits into this niche perfectly.
Cocoa farming has changed the fortunes of small and marginal farmers of Pollachi. This cash crop has increased their revenue and allowed them to enter into the elite market of premium chocolate production.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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