We recently got an interesting direct email from a reader of our Thinglish Lifestyle blog. As we are living in interesting times, I thought I’d share the question and answer with our readers here as it may help others in similar circumstances.
I’ve edited both the question and answer a little to protect the identity of the person posing the question.
Is it possible to grow cocoa in the northeast province of Nakhon Phanom? Is the weather favourable for Cocoa? I have rubber trees which are not so lucrative these past years and I’m looking at different crops to grow that are more profitable. I’ve been working in BKK for the last 6 years but things have drastically changed in my line of work, so not only do i need crop that supports my family but also supports my wife and I plus my Dad.
Appreciate any assistance/advice you have.
I’ve never been to Nakhon Phanom but have been close by in Mukdahan, so I don’t know if your terrain is similar.
We grow cocoa in Trat, It’s also grown in Chanthaburi, Chumpon, Chiang Mai and Chaing Rai provinces in Thailand that I know off. Maybe there are more. Cocoa can grow 20 degrees north and south of the equator.
However, cocoa doesn’t like high winds and needs lots of water (but now waterlogged). So if you have access to water or irrigation it should be fine. It’s natural habitat is the jungle but there are plenty of farmers growing it as a mono crop.
I have always thought it would grow well between rubber trees as the young cocoa trees
do not like direct sunlight. As they mature and get 3 or 4 feet high, they love the sun. The rubber trees could then be felled (carefully) so the cocoa can really take off. You can expect to produce cocoa pods in around 3 years from planting.
Personally we are more into permaculture and natural growing so we do not mono crop. Interplanting cocoa with coconut or coffee works well (maybe rubber too). Once the cocoa trees are established, adding vanilla orchids to grow on them is a good idea to bring in another income from a high value crop.
After visiting Sri Lanka a couple of years ago, we bought 4 cinnamon trees. They grow very well here in Thailand without any real care or attention. I do not know why no one else is growing it here, everyone it seems is growing durian. I think the price of durian will fall dramatically in the next few years due to the over supply.
Cinnamon trees can be harvested every six months and produce high value products such as cinnamon sticks, chips and oil. If we had more land I’d go down this route for sure and sell the products online.
Another good tree is moringa (malum
in Thai). It’s easy to grow from seed and you can make products with a high value like moringa
powder, capsules, tea etc. It’s also a great crop to add to your daily diet.
Farming is a hard game, but the secret as we see it is growing a crop you can turn into a high value product and sell direct to consumers online or in a local market/shop:
- Cocoa trees > Chocolate
- Moringa trees> Moringa powder/capsules/oil
- Cinnamon Trees > Cinnamon sticks/oil
I would suggest planting 10 to 50 cocoa trees between your rubber trees and see how they take as a test project before jumping all in. It’s a low cost way to get some feedback and see how they would perform in your area.
There is a shortage of quality organic cocoa in Thailand, so selling the beans would not be an issue. Search for Thai Cocoa Distribution or contact the handful of bean to bar chocolate producers directly.
Hopefully that has answered your questions and given you some food for thought. Let me know if it helps.
What would you do if you were in a similar position? Let us know in the comments below.
Is it Possible to Grow Cocoa in Thailand?