JIS News

The Cocoa Industry Board will be spearheading a number of initiatives to help farmers recover from any damage suffered as a result of Hurricane Dean, including advancing payment to farmers to help with the replanting process.
“We are providing advance payment and we want it to be clear that it is an advance payment of up to $4,000 per cocoa acre,” said Secretary Manager of the Cocoa Industry Board, Naburn Nelson.
“On average, if you supply 15 boxes of wet cocoa per acre, we will provide you with advance payment of $4,000. The average is (based) on your past performance,” he explained.
According to Mr. Nelson, the advance is expected to go towards paying labourers to remove debris from cocoa plots so that farmers can begin replanting. “We provide this money to farmers so they can employ their various teams to cut up these trees so that they can go back to producing cocoa,” he said.
Regarding the re-payment of the advance, Mr. Nelson told JIS News that “we are not going to be pressuring the farmers”. Therefore for every box of cocoa that is supplied, no more than $300 will be deducted at any one time.
He said the farmers will be given one or two-month’s “breathing space” before deductions are taken from the payments that they will receive for their cocoa.
“Already, a first tranche of $2 million has been identified to be distributed among farmers, who want advanced payments. “So, we are ready and rearing to go.we are actually (now) collecting names from the secretaries and collectors (agents), and farmers who have suffered any damage and want help, are to contact secretaries and collectors in their areas right away and provide them with their names, so that they can forward it to us in Kingston, so that we can make the payment right away to them,” Mr. Nelson stated.
He noted that while the cocoa industry suffered its share of damage from Hurricane Dean, the damage was not as extensive as with Hurricane Ivan.
“We are thankful that damage was nowhere near as extensive as Ivan had wrought on us. It is safe to say that the farms that are in the valleys have been saved to a great extent. Those on the hillside suffered some damage but for the most part, we are still on for a good crop for this upcoming year,” he told JIS News.
Meanwhile, as of October 1, cocoa farmers will benefit from an increase in the price paid to them by the board.
Mr. Nelson informed that the farmers will be paid $1,340.06 per box for wet cocoa, up from $1,140.06. He explained that this increase is based on a number of factors. “The decline in the Jamaican dollar and the whole matter of the good weather pattern has been encouraging and as a result, the production has been over our expectation,” he informed.
“We had budgeted for over 60,000 boxes and to date, we have already gone 75,000 boxes so that is almost 15,000 boxes over and above that was budgeted for, for the year,” he added.
The Cocoa Industry Board has also enhanced its support services to bolster the productivity of farmers and to attract new farmers to the industry. “Cocoa agents, traditionally called collectors, have been working with farmers to encourage them to produce,” he said.
The cocoa crop year ends this month. The main cocoa producing parishes are St. Mary, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and St. Thomas, while farmers in western parishes such as St. Elizabeth, St. James, Westmoreland, and parts of Trelawny, also produce the crop.

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