Round Table with Oscar
November 22, 2013
Cocoa – An Integration Industry

Grenada began to produce cocoa in 1660. That is 450 years ago. Today, it has around 3,000 growers on 20,000 acres of active cultivation producing some two million pounds of cocoa beans. Farmers sell their cocoa to the cocoa association at EC$1.50 per lb, wet, and EC$ 3.50 per lb, dry. One of our cocoa cooperative (COPCO, SVG) members gave this report after a visit to the cocoa sector in Grenada.{{more}}

The cocoa field at Laura Estate has well-structured trees, rehabilitated after Hurricane Ivan. They are beginning to bear heavily and are impressive. The goat breeding project on the farm provides refuse and compost for the cocoa field, and the estimate of 2,700 lb of cocoa per acre is an outstanding average, just 600 lb less than the Jamaica record. The Grenada Chocolate Company produces four varieties of dark organic chocolate, known for the health benefits of its flavonals, and it also produces cocoa butter, cocoa powder (the SMILO brand) and cocoa rolls (our chocolate sticks).

I find that the organic Chocolate Company is an initiative that should be known and supported by more people, especially as it has received many awards for its quality. The COPCO member adds that Grenada has a lot to teach us, especially as it begins to partner with the chocolate manufacturer L.A. Burdick to manufacture large-scale non-organic chocolate products for the world market.

The banana industry under WINBAN was beginning to grow into a Windwards Integration Industry, when its seed fell on stony ground. Today WINCHOC can begin to move to take up the role which WINABN-WIBDECO-WINFRESH stakeholders mishandled.

Cocoa Integration means that in each of the Windward Islands, we will increase the quantity, variety and the quality of the production force in cocoa production. Let us invent WINBAP – Windwards Best Agricultural Practices for our sub-region’s 40,000 acres of Windwards cocoa. Let us fashion and position WINCHOC as an overall corporate brand, along the lines that Professor Leonard O’Garro and others have suggested, with Geographic Fingerprinting of the specific features as desired. Let us design the governance of WINCHOC so that every producer has shares in the transnational cocoa-chocolate company.

Let us challenge Europe’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to give WINCHOC a base in Europe without restriction and barriers and so use Europe’s hub to gain access to Asian markets for WINCHOC over the counter beverage. Let WINCHOC become a breeze that blows through the region’s cocoa industry and show the world that our fine and flavoured cocoa is not just three per cent essence that they use to blend and lift their bulk cocoa products. Let our cocoa region become a smart stakeholder in the EC$250 billion sales chocolate industry. Imagine what five per cent or 10 per cent of that annual sale can do for us in the region. Let Haiti get its share.

Here is St Vincent and the Grenadines and there in Grenada, COPCO invites cocoa stakeholders to become conscious of what we are sitting on. Cocoa Integration can be a Caribbean winner when we get smart and show our partners – Armajaro, L.A. Burdick, Nestle etc that we too are in the front seat.