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JIS News

The Cocoa Industry Board is projecting that it will export between 700 and 800 tonnes of cocoa by September this year.
This projection is part of a five-year plan by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands to export some 1,400 tonnes of the commodity annually.
Secretary/Manager for the Cocoa Industry Board, Naburn Nelson told JIS News that in order to achieve the five-year target, a number of key strategies were being put in place to aid the process.
“One of the main strategies is to ensure that the real returns to farmers are kept just above the inflationary gap and to ensure that their [farmers] real returns are worthwhile,” he explained.
Additionally, he said that the organization was looking at increasing the density of cocoa plots to some 400 plants per acre.
“Since we have implemented this plan, we have already distributed some 10,600 seedlings from October to April this year,” he noted.
To obtain sustainability of the upgraded plants, the company will be looking at providing assistance to farmers by supplying fertilizers, rat baits and offsetting the cost for labour.
“We are now working with an international organization to provide most of the funding required. We are well advanced with the discussion and we are preparing a project document to submit to the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, so they can forward it to this international organization,” Mr. Nelson pointed out.
He also noted that the cleaning of cocoa plots was another major area of concern for the organization and the Board was currently working with a number of farmers to address this problem. Work, he said, was also being done to encourage farmers to plant all cocoa trees in set plots.
“We are ensuring that farmers plant in designated areas. These include the parishes of St. Thomas, St. Mary, St. Catherine and Clarendon which are the main cocoa producing areas,” he added.
Mr. Nelson implored farmers to use the seedlings that are grown by the Cocoa Industry Board, as these seedlings were of the highest quality. He said that the seedlings were being distributed to farmers free of cost.