Central cocoa farmers to export more beans

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - 10:30

Co­coa farm­ers in cen­tral Trinidad are ex­pect­ing to ex­port more of the valu­able beans this year.


The good news came from the Montser­rat Hills Co­coa Farm­ers Co­op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety Lim­it­ed at a news con­fer­ence held by the so­ci­ety in Gran Cou­va on Mon­day.

It took place on the com­pound of it’s choco­late mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties where the or­gan­i­sa­tion al­so an­nounced their up­com­ing Co­coa Fes­ti­val card­ed for this week­end.

Vice pres­i­dent of the co­op­er­a­tive Ronald Bhag­gan said the 42 farm­ers in the as­so­ci­a­tion are hop­ing to ex­port be­tween 40 to 60 tonnes this year when the sea­son starts in Oc­to­ber when com­pared to last year’s ex­port of 24 to 36 tonnes of the fine flavoured beans which can earn as much as $28,000 a tone.

Bhag­gan said this is part of the co­op­er­a­tive’s five-year plan to boost pro­duc­tion by 10 per cent an­nu­al­ly, re­ha­bil­i­tate old es­tates, raise prices, en­hance the qual­i­ty of the prod­uct and get more farm­ers in­volved in co­coa pro­duc­tion.

He said the co­op­er­a­tive al­so planned to en­cour­age down­stream pro­duc­tion where farm­ers can gen­er­ate val­ue added prod­ucts.

He said some of these prod­ucts such as choco­lates, cos­met­ics and oth­er food items in­fused with co­coa would be on dis­play at the food fes­ti­val on Sun­day at the La Ve­ga Es­tate.

Bhag­gan said on the down­side, the in­dus­try is los­ing val­ue farm­ing lands to hous­ing.

He said while labour re­mains a prob­lem the co­op­er­a­tive was able to hire some Ven­zeu­lan mi­grants as labour­ers.

How­ev­er, he said the in­dus­try re­mains cau­tious of hir­ing for­eign­ers be­cause of the preva­lence of the Frosty Pod dis­ease which could dev­as­tate the in­dus­try.

He said the dis­ease is trans­mit­ted by spores that can trav­el on the skin and cloth­ing of for­eign­ers.

He said should any­one from Venezuela bring the dis­ease to T&T it would dev­as­tate the in­dus­try.

Bhag­gan said there is a pe­ri­od of quar­an­tine that these in­di­vid­u­als must un­der­go be­fore they are al­lowed on es­tates.

He said the in­dus­try is al­so suf­fer­ing from a lack of ac­cess roads, wa­ter and the high cost of equip­ment.

About the fes­ti­val, Bhag­gan said it of­fers a boost for do­mes­tic tourism. He said last year’s event at­tract­ed over 2,000 vis­i­tors and this year the co­op­er­a­tive were ex­pect­ing more to at­tend. He said since then there has been an in­creased num­ber of per­sons who vis­it the es­tates.

Ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber Di­ane Chin­pire said the food el­e­ment of the fes­ti­val promis­es to be ex­cit­ing. She said an ar­ray of cur­ry dish­es, meats and bev­er­ages would be in­fused with co­coa to demon­strate how the beans can add its own unique fla­vor to cook­ing.

Reporter: Shastri Boodan