Inside Uganda’s Growing Chocolate Industry
Uganda has a long but relatively unknown history of cacao production. The crop was originally introduced at the turn of the century by the British, but collapsed two decades later. The British tended to favour coffee production, due to the market demand.
It was not until after independence that cacao farming was reintroduced to Uganda. Most of Uganda’s cacao is grown in Bundibugyo, a border district in western Uganda at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains. Here, the climate is warm, rainy and tropical, which is the ideal conditions for cocoa to thrive. Cacao is harvested all year round, making it a stable crop.
There are three types of cacao beans: criollo, which is considered the finest quality, forastero, which is considered less good but is far more resilient, and trinitatrio, which is a cross between criollo and forastero. Forastero is grown in Uganda, and much of Africa, because it is more resistant to disease.
Cacao grows in pods on trees, which contains 30-40 beans. The pods are cut from the tree, and opened, then the beans removed. The beans are then fermented, to remove the coat from the bean and give it flavour. Fermentation takes between 6 to 10 days. The beans are then dried, which in Uganda is done under the sun. They are then ready to be roasted and made into chocolate.