August 16, 2011
SVG, Armajaro Trading Ltd sign MOU for cocoa

The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Armajaro Trading Ltd. have signed a memorandum of agreement for the reintroduction of the growing of cocoa, on a commercial scale, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.{{more}}

The agreement was signed on Friday, August 12.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves signed on behalf of the Government, while Nicko Debenham, Director of Sustainability and Development at Armajaro Trading Ltd, signed on behalf of his company.

Dr. Gonsalves, in remarks following the signing, noted that he had been advised by the officials from Armajaro that cultivation of cocoa should start by the next rainy season.

Dr. Gonsalves said that there will be three demonstration projects and farmers will also be able to get involved in cocoa production as soon as the planting material is available.

The Prime Minister noted that the agreement is not social welfare agreement, but a business agreement. He said Armajaro is not a charitable institution, and unless everyone can make a profit out of the agreement, it will not survive.

The Prime Minister pointed out that Armajaro has given an undertaking as part of the agreement for the planting material to be made available to farmers. He said the company is also committed to providing credit on a commercial basis to farmers in inputs and fertilizers.

Dr. Gonsalves said that the Ministry of Agriculture will be involved in the project every step of the way and he also noted that there is a provision in the agreement for the setting up of a Cocoa Producers’ Association. He, however, stated that the contracts will be between individual farmers and Armajaro.

Government, as part of the agreement, has given exclusivity to Armajaro in the sale and marketing of cocoa produced and marketed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Dr. Gonsalves, however, pointed out that there is an exception for persons involved in the cottage industry, where cocoa sticks and other products are produced for the local market.

Government has also granted a number of concessions to the company, which the Prime Minister noted are in the domain of the usual concessions for agriculture.

The agreement will be made public and will be put in the form of a Bill which will go to Parliament to satisfy the principles of transparency, good governance and accountability.

Dr. Gonsalves stated that he hoped that with the enlightened self interest of farmers and Armajaro, there will be diversification of Agriculture, creation of employment, enhancement of wealth in the farming community and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.