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KINGSTON — The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, says the Government’s move to relinquish its interest in the cocoa industry will add value to the sector and enhance competitiveness.

“(We want to) get private sector engagement to deal with primary output (and)  build value to create better marketing opportunities,” he stated.

The Minister was speaking at an economic symposium held as part of the Caribbean Canadian Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue (CCELD) on June 6, at the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) training centre in Acadia, St. Andrew.

According to Minister Tufton, Jamaica is recognised as one of eight exclusive producers of fine-flavoured cocoa, and has a market for 2,000 tonnes, however it only produces between 600 to 700 tonnes of the product.  

“In the scheme of things it’s a very small quantity. We don’t have the scale, but because of the quality and the flavour profile, if you get into value-added, you could create a brand as others are doing in Europe to make it a very lucrative market, and so we are now packaging that industry for divestment,” Dr. Tufton said.

Minister Tufton, also revealed that the commercial operations of the Coffee Industry Board would be privatised and divested.

He said that with the divestment, the Board will be restructured “to move it away from doing the things that the private sector can do and to keep it focussed as a regulator to deal with standards based on the product origin."

The CCELD brought together some 120 future leaders from Canada and the Caribbean to participate in a two-week leadership development conference to explore topics covering agriculture, fiscal policy, mining, tourism, and strategies for rejuvenating the local manufacturing sector.

Contributors to Monday’s symposium, which had wide participation from the business and financial community, included Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett; Senior Director for Economics and Projects at the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, Dennis Morrison; and Governor, Bank of Jamaica, Brian Wynter.

Special guest was Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal, who was in Jamaica on a one-day working visit.

 

By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter