JIS News

State Minister for Agriculture, Errol Ennis has said that the targets to increase cocoa production were attainable and plans had been activated to increase and sustain the crop.
Mr. Ennis, who was making his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday (June 22), explained that the demand for Jamaica’s fine flavoured cocoa internationally stood at approximately 1,200 metric tones, but some of the market had been lost due to product substitution and the inability to meet supply targets.
“One of the paradoxes of the cocoa industry is that if you travel the length and breadth of the island, you see that the material is there to produce significantly more cocoa than we now produce. The problem has been lack of proper administration at the commodity board level, which has led the farmer to withdraw from the production of cocoa,” he pointed out.
Mr. Ennis noted however, that the Ministry had attempted over the last two years to rectify that situation and just as results were about to be achieved, the island suffered the effects of Hurricane Ivan and a severe drought earlier this year.
Despite the setbacks, two programmes of resuscitation have begun and the results so far have been very encouraging, the Minister said. He informed that notwithstanding the reorganisation of the Cocoa Industry Board, the Ministry had been able to assist some of the larger farmers to supply most of the export demands, while the smaller farmers in St. Catherine and Clarendon would supply the additional amount.
Stating that Jamaica had some of the finest quality cocoa in the world, Mr. Ennis said that by next year’s autumn crop, “we will be well placed to supply our market”.
Up to last year, Jamaica received a premium on the international price for cocoa of over $1,100 based on quality alone. The price is now nearly $600 per box, which means $60,000 per tonne. “It’s a crop I would encourage anybody to enter into at this stage,” he told the House.