In the illustration above, cocoa growing regions of the world are highlighted in the middle of the map. Cocoa trees require constant warmth and rainfall to thrive. They need to be shaded from the strong tropical sun and sheltered from the wind. Cocoa trees grow only in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, South America and Central America, within 15 to 20 degrees of the equator.
Cocoa trees grow best in the shade of other trees. When very young, they require deep shade. As they mature, they require more filtered sunlight. Farmers plant a shade umbrella of taller trees such as breadfruit, Para rubber, laurel and various legumes to shelter their cocoa trees. Shade-grown cocoa trees can produce fruit for 75 to 100 years or more.
Top producing cocoa countries include:
Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil, Ecuador and Malaysia.