JIS News

The Cocoa Industry Board has spent over $2.2 million to assist 220 cocoa farmers in the rehabilitation of 291.7 hectares (721 acres) of cocoa plots island wide.
Funding for the rehabilitation project was provided by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and the Cocoa Industry Board. To date, DBJ has committed a total of $3.7 million towards the project.
Three years ago, the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Cocoa Industry Board, formulated a development project to revitalize the cocoa industry. It involved the rehabilitation of over 600 hectares of cocoa at a cost of$8 million in five parishes, St. Mary, Portland, St. Thomas, Clarendon and St. Catherine. Farmers received assistance from government in the form of grants to cover the costs of fertilizer, reaping hooks, pesticide and cocoa seedlings.
“The response so far from farmers have been very good,” Secretary/Manager of the Board, Naburn Nelson told JIS News. “Farmers are enthused. Even those who have neglected their fields for the past four years are now coming on board,” he said, noting that 42 farmers have been assisted in St. Thomas to rehabilitate approximately 66.7 hectares (165 acres).
According to Mr. Nelson, cocoa seedlings are now available free of cost and these are taken to farmers’ fields. He said that sufficient seedlings were available for distribution and more would be provided as the need arises.
Mr. Nelson also informed JIS News that private sector entities have been “coming on board” to establish demonstration plots and mentioned that Antilles Chemicals Company and the Federated Pharmaceuticals Limited have committed some $300,000 towards the plots. Antilles has funded a plot in Esher, St. Mary, while Federated Pharmaceuticals has committed funding for plots in St. Thomas, St. Andrew, St. Mary, Clarendon and St. Catherine.
The Secretary Manager said that there was a need for demonstration plots so that farmers could be taught the best practices in cocoa growing and rehabilitation. “This is an economical way of getting across the technology to farmers, both for the new planters and for the ones rehabilitating,” Mr. Nelson said.
The cocoa rehabilitation project is being supported through the networking of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).

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