Sep 14, 2010

Cocoa on the rise?|Government promises to revitalize the cocoa industry!

As the Government moves towards the revitalisation of the cocoa industry, farmers in north and east Trinidad believe if automated cocoa dryers and incentives for labour are not granted, the industry will soon die. The industry which contributed to T&T’s development for more than 200 years, began during the Spanish colonisation, but declined rapidly in the 1920’s because of falling prices.

Since the 1950s, repeated attempts have been unsuccessfully made to revitalise the local cocoa business. In the 1990s, farmers said they were promised leases and incentives to work their cocoa fields but none was provided. Although T&T’s cocoa has been ranked as the best in the world, local cocoa farmers continue to abandon their lands. Cocoa houses, once the hub of activity, now lie dormant.

The newly elected Peoples Partnership government has made many promises to the people of the twin island republic. However, I am pleased that there will be a drive to improve the agricultural environment in the country. We can grow a lot of the food that we need with good management and assistance to the farmers who dearly need financial assistance and access roads. 

Many years ago our cocoa was regarded as the best in the world and was used to flavor bulk cocoa supplies from Africa in the chocolate houses of England and Europe. Today our cocoa industry  is almost non existent. Most of the estates are abandoned or simply overgrown because the owners did not get the value for the product and effort to bring the produce to market. The government has promised change and with the assistance from foreign companies the cocoa industry might get the boot needed to rise and dominate again. 

We need to diversify away from oil to help develop the nation. Cocoa is one product that will provide some revenue year after year. We must get involved in these endeavors again. There is a labor problem that needs to be addressed. Labor is needed to work the estates and to keep the areas clean so that the cocoa trees can flourish and produce. New plants are needed and the Ministry of Agriculture  can assist in this area. If this is approached sensibly then in a few decades we can once again boast about having a cocoa industry that flavors the chocolates of the world once again! However, talking about it one thing... We need to act now!






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