Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, says the Cocoa Industry Board (CIB) has been instructed to divert a $15 million advance, previously received from the Ministry, for use in resuscitating the local cocoa industry, which was impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Speaking during the second Social Development Commission (SDC) Parish/Town Hall Meeting in May Pen, Clarendon, on October 31, Mr. Clarke said the CIB was advanced the funds to purchase cocoa “until they were able to receive their resources from the sales” of the crop.
He explained that this was part of an initial major thrust to resuscitate the industry through support provided by the European Union (EU) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“We had been making progress because, last year, we did about 200 tonnes (in production) and this year, 500 tonnes. We were on a trajectory to do about 780 to 800 tonnes next year (2013). What has happened (is that) the hurricane has put paid to that,” the Minister said.
“Not only have some of the trees been damaged, but trees within the cocoa farms have been blown down, and those trees have rested on some of the (other) cocoa trees, damaging them,” the Minister added, while pointing out that the CIB was in the process repaying the funds when the hurricane struck on October 24.
The Minister pointed out that, “right now, we have to fertilize, so that we can get a spring flowering to see if we can salvage as much as we can out of (the) next crop."
Wednesday’s meeting was one in a series of islandwide fora, being jointly staged by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, and its agency, the SDC, under the theme: ‘Government and Governance’.
The meetings are aimed at providing Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, and other members of the Cabinet and Government, with the opportunity to engage the public in discussions on a range of topical issues.
The fora are also designed to facilitate relevant government agencies with opportunities to provide updates on programmes and initiatives, specific to the local and parish levels.