The variety used for planting is the “Cacao Mercedes”. Also known as “18 months cacao”, the name is derived from its time-to-production (1,6 years). This is much quicker compared to previous varieties that ranged from 5 to 6 years before the first harvest. Developed by the CNRA (Centre national de recherche agronomique) over a period of 15 years as a hybrid, this variety is reputed to be far more resilient to diseases, unpredictable climatic conditions (notably drier conditions) and promises a higher tonnage per tree.
For the experts, the finding of this variety was the result of the crossing of the different parts of clones originating from 6 different parents. Its distribution begun in 2004 and has since gained ground thanks to efforts from the Ivorian Cocoa Coffee Council (CCC), a public body responsible for regulating the market, who sources plantings from CNRA and distributes it to the growers. From an average of 25,000 hectares per year since 2004, the distribution has grown to 40,000 hectares in 2016. CNRA aims to, over the long run, ensure that all production in the country originates from this hybrid variety.