Our Readers' Opinions
August 12, 2011
The cocoa memorandum

Fri, Aug 12. 2011

Editor: The government of SVG is putting its signature on an agreement with the cocoa company Amajaro to promote cocoa growing here for the British company. This has to be a secret document that we are going to hear about now that the two agents have their pens in hand.{{more}} Now, I would like to plant a few acres of cocoa, but for me the first memorandum to be signed must be a Growers’ Memorandum with our government or with a company that respects us as growers and partners.

When last did any government or any company treat farmers as respectable partners and investors? However, in this Emancipation month, farmers and workers must stop treating ourselves as garbage that others can toss around in a black plastic bag. After all, it is growers who will put land and labour into cocoa cultivation, and so the very first duty of government is to talk with us first so we can arrange ourselves to form a memorandum of intent and ready ourselves to negotiate and cultivate.

If our government were truly looking out for us as it went into talks with Amajaro, then the memorandum of understanding must protect us and our cocoa. The articles of the memorandum must: Put farmers on a fair and equal footing with the company; Give the farmers reliable intelligence from the company (and vice versa); Assert the international recognition of Caribbean cocoa as finely flavoured and high in value; Provide no a priori or absolute monopoly from the start over our cocoa output; Open a discussion on processing the cocoa here when we have a sufficient production; Intend to share ownership/equity with farmers in the local/regional post cultivation; Contribute to a start up fund to launch production of quality semi dried beans

This is the (default) memorandum we must demand. Nothing Less.

Oscar Allen