Secretary Manager of the Cocoa Industry Board, Steven Watson, wants more individuals to invest in the product, to ensure its viability and sustainability within the agricultural sector.
“The industry needs investments to grow; investment in farms, investment in upgrading fermenting facilities and investment in capturing more of the value chain, locally,” he said.
Mr. Watson was speaking at a workshop on implementation, communication, mobilization and institutional strengthening within the cocoa sector, at the Jamaica Exporters’ Association, Kingston on Friday February 4.
He said that two projects funded by the European Union (EU) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), for the rehabilitation of 3,000 acres of previously neglected cocoa, are being undertaken. These projects have all the relevant components to encourage the best practices to be undertaken by the farmers, he said. He also encouraged farmers to cluster and share resources and best practices, in an effort to reduce the level of investment risks.
“Even with a moderate increase in production for these acreages, there will be a significant impact on the amount of beans produced locally,” he said.
He added that Jamaican cocoa is one of seven whose production has been designated as 100 per cent fine flavoured.
He noted that the Agriculture Minister has stated that the commercial operations of the Cocoa Industry Board will be privatized and divested, in the near future.
Mr. Watson said that with the commercial operations privatized, the role of the Board will be to regulate the industry, to ensure that “our flying flavour status is maintained."
“Issuing of licences will also be a part of the regime and, when production grows, there is the possibility that marketing development support will be given to the players in the sector,” he said.
The workshop targeted local stakeholders, producer groups, private sector nurseries, processors, quality certifiers, trainers, artisan manufacturers and agro-tourism operators. It falls under the Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE)-funded project, ‘Caribbean Fine Flavour Cocoa Industry Commercialization’.
The overall goal of the project is to address the challenges faced by the fine flavour cocoa producers in the Caribbean, particularly those of declining production and low productivity, as well as food safety and other quality concerns.
CONTACT: CHRIS PATTERSON