1525: Criollo variety of cocoa introduced from Mexico.
1716: Edward “Blackbeard” Teach looted a brig loaded with cocoa bound for Port of Spain.
1727: Industry almost completely destroyed by a hurricane.
1757: Forastero cocoa introduced from Venezuela (inter-bred with remnant Criollo to create Trinitario)
Trinitario Cocoa growing on the tree
1807: Abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
1830: Trinidad and Tobago was the World’s 3rd largest producer of cocoa after Venezuela and Ecuador – producing 20% of the World’s cocoa.
1866-1920: Cocoa industry dominated the local economy – the global demand for cocoa was high and prices remained stable.
1921: Local cocoa production peaked at 75 million lbs / 34,000 tons.
A Cocoa Knife – Tool used to cut the cocoa off of the branch of the tree
1928: Witches’ Broom Disease appeared in Trinidad and Tobago marking the decline of the cocoa industry.
1929–1939: Great Depression decreased global demand for cocoa.
Early 1930’s: FJ Pound (scientist with the Ministry of Agriculture) selected 100 Imperial College selections for good yield potential and apparent field resistance to Witches’ Broom Disease. They were distributed to cocoa farmers with some success. The cocoa industry continued to decline due to the high cost of cocoa production and low cocoa prices, leading to the abandonment of many cocoa estates.
Other factors that contributed to the decline of the cocoa industry in Trinidad and Tobago include the increase in global sugar prices and the development of a local petroleum economy.
Image 3: Cocoa Drying in a Cocoa House on the San Antonio Estate
Bekele, Frances (2009) Beans of Pedigree
Bekele, Frances (2004) The History of Cocoa Production in Trinidad and Tobago