JIS News

The Cocoa Industry Board, in collaboration with the Portland-based College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), is embarking on a young farmer’s project, which is geared at encouraging young people to get involved in the planting of cocoa trees.
Speaking with JIS News, Secretary Manager of the agency, Naburn Nelson, explained that the project will serve as a teaching aid for students, who are undertaking studies in agriculture at the college.
“When you grow up with something you will learn to appreciate it more”, he reasoned. “These are tertiary students and we expect that when they graduate from the college, they will either sell or become involved in the cultivation of the crop,” he stated.
Mr. Nelson informed that the project will cost his organization approximately $25,000 to $30,000 for set up, and a five-acre plot of land has been donated by the school to accommodate the project. “We will be assisting them to set up the project so that they can be commercially viable,” he indicated.
According to the Secretary Manager, based on discussions with the school’s management, when the pilot phase is completed, operation of the farm will be offered as a core course, which means that all students will be involved in the project during their life at the school.
The initiative is also expected to be introduced to other schools in the cocoa producing areas of St. Mary, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Thomas and Portland.
“We will be going into all the schools and establishing these cocoa plots,” Mr. Nelson stated, noting that focus will also be placed on the commercial aspect, so that students can become aware that planting the crop is commercially viable.
In the meantime, the Cocoa Industry Board will be implementing a number of projects geared at fulfilling its target of exporting some 1,400 tonnes of the cocoa within the next five years. These projects include a replanting and expansion programme to replenish those farms that have lost cocoa trees or are in need of an upgrade.
The agency recently reported that it had exceeded its export target of 600 tonnes of cocoa by approximately 168 tonnes for the crop year, which ended in September.