Cocoa Production Above Target


The Cocoa Industry Board is reporting that it has exceeded by approximately 168 tonnes, its target of exporting 600 tonnes of cocoa for the crop year which ended in September.
Speaking with JIS News, Secretary Manager of the Board, Naburn Nelson said achieving this feat is very good for the industry considering the many challenges the sector faced in previous years.
Commenting on a five year plan to export 1,400 tonnes of the commodity, he said the primary cause of not meeting this target at present relates to the recent hurricane and weather conditions. He said however, that plans are being implemented to ensure that this target is met.
“We have a number of plans in place including a periodic review of farm gate price and an incentive scheme for service groups such as secretaries and collectors.”
He informed that the incentive to be paid to these persons will be based on the number of boxes of cocoa selected from farmers; a process which he said “is working tremendously.”
Additionally, the Secretary Manager explained that production would be further boosted as the organization is involved in a replanting and expansion programme to replenish those farms that have lost cocoa trees or are in need of an upgrade.He said that since October 2006 the Cocoa Industry Board, through this project, has supplied some 16,400 seedlings to farmers.
“These are not seedlings that we go out there and beg or encourage farmers to buy or to collect,” he explained, adding that farmers are the ones who have come in to request seedlings for replanting.”
As a result of the demand, he revealed, the organization has planted approximately 41 acres of trees in one year and approximately 24,000 seedlings are currently being housed in nurseries.
“Seedlings are produced and then issued to farmers at subsidized costs; the production cost is somewhere in the region of $35 to $40 and we only collect $5 per seedling from farmers to contribute to transportation,” he explained.
Following the passage of Hurricanes Ivan and Dean, the Cocoa Industry Board developed and implemented a recovery assistance project which helps cocoa farmers who have been adversely affected by natural disasters, by providing an advance payment of $4,000 to return fields to meaningful production. These monies are then collected over a one year period from funds owed to the farmers by the Board.
The main cocoa producing parishes are St. Mary, St. Catherine, Clarendon, and St. Thomas, while farmers in the western parishes such as St. Elizabeth, St. James, Westmoreland, and parts of Trelawny, also produce the crop.

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