Question: Is it true or is it a political gimmick on the eve of this country’s general election or are they serious?
Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj, made the announcement at the launch of the Trinidad and Tobago Fine Cocoa Company limited on Wednesday 05th, August 2015. He said that the Cocoa Development Company of T&T (CDCTTL) approved a price increase for the 2015/2016 cocoa crop which starts in October, which clearly states more money for cocoa farmers.
It includes an increase of $2 per kg of cocoa beans, as well an increase of $3 per kg to farmers supplying quantities which exceed their previous production by 25 per cent.
This will be called a volume incentive bonus (VIB) and production data from the 2013/2014 crop will be used as the baseline to measure the increase in production.
Mr. Maharaj goes on to say that there will also be adjustments in the price of wet cocoa and it is the first time in history of the local industry that a cocoa processing facility had been constructed in to “move from bean to bar.”
“Over the years there have been many prescriptions by the former administration to remedy cocoa’s fall from grace, all of which remained stillborn and failed to move King Cocoa out of its plantation economy mode,” he said.
“Prescriptions focused on the archaic system of ramping up production, only to sell our unique raw cocoa at paltry prices to foreign markets. Prescriptions whereby our cocoa farmers’ blood, sweat and tears were rewarded by a meagre pittance.”
Maharaj said that plantation economy approach to cocoa production resulted in historic cocoa plantations being all but abandoned and that there is the looming loss of niche markets due to an insufficient and unreliable supply. This administration is determined to change this.
The Minister further said and I quote that Trinidad and Tobago produces a unique and highly sought after type of cocoa categorised as fine or flavour and only five per cent of the cocoa produced in the world falls into that category.
It commands a premium price exceeding US$5,000 per tonne compared to the US$2,000 per tonne price tag placed on bulk cocoa.
The chocolate factory, which will be located on the La Reunion Estate, will be equipped with eight pieces of high tech, state of the art processing equipment. It will be used as a regional model chocolate facility.
I am hoping also that we will become involved in Fairtrade and be Internationally certified and all our products be recognized and accepted worldwide like Belize and the Dominican Republic.