PM anticipates 4,000-5,000 acres for cocoa production
May 13, 2011
PM anticipates 4,000-5,000 acres for cocoa production

DiALOGUE into the possibility of a venture by this country into cocoa production is ongoing.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves at a press conference on Tuesday, May 3, following his return from the United Kingdom, said that he met with top officials at Armajaro Trading.

Among the officials, Gonsalves said he met with Richard Ryan, the Chief Executive Officer, and William Venables, Cocoa Director, who indicated that they had already received a preliminary report from the company’s representative who visited this country earlier, but were waiting on the results from the feasibility study expected in another month.

“They were being clear that this has to be something that will worth their while and that of our farmers as well,” Gonsalves explained.

It was anticipated that between 4,000 and 5,000 acres will be devoted to cocoa production. The Prime Minister said that the conversations also included financing for farmers who will be willing to go into cocoa production.

Gonsalves also spoke of the importance of the farmers coming together to form an association and how farmers might react to issues such as traceability of product which he advised was a concept which already lies in the domain of farmers.

An invitation had been extended to the Armajaro officials to visit here, Gonsalves affirmed.

He added that the Government will be playing a significant role in the process as it seeks to look out for the interest of the farmers and country.

Meanwhile, Gonsalves said that on his return he had received a letter from Oscar Allen who expressed the view that this country should make an investment in chocolate.

“There is nothing to stop farmers from setting up investment for chocolate factory,” Gonsalves contended.

However, he warned that there needed to be a practical approach.

While he spoke of the significance of value added, Gonsalves said that there was a potential problem if there was to be a shortage of raw materials to supply production.

Gonsalves said that the future of the project will come out after the farmers’ association is formed.

“It is a work in progress,” he said, adding that he had already held dialogue with several persons, including Renwick Rose, whom he said he urged to begin getting the farmers to organize themselves and register.

Gonsalves, however, reiterated his view that he did not expect cocoa production to have as much impact on the agricultural sector as bananas.

“I do not see cocoa as significant as another commodity or in the same way we are seeking to grow fruits and vegetables,” he said.