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SVG Cocoa Producers Co-operative elects first executive

SVG Cocoa Producers Co-operative elects first executive

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The seven persons elected to the first executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cocoa Producers Co-operative Society ltd (COPCO) are expected to meet today.

During the first general meeting of the co-operative on Tuesday at Frenches House, Garvin Seymour, Cools Vanloo, St Clair Cox, Clive Bishop, Ingrid Punnett,{{more}} Lyndi Abbott and Gregory Marshall were chosen by those in attendance to lead the organization into the home-grown cocoa industry, which they hope to establish.

A supervisory committee, which comprises Oscar Allen, Joylin Lampkin and Brian Andrews, was also selected to monitor and guide the board.

The more than 20 farmers at the meeting, most of them members of the co-operative, expressed enthusiasm and hope in the possibilities ahead, despite the withdrawal of Amarjaro Trading and the St Vincent Cocoa Company last month.

The international corporation withdrew after informing the Government that they did not see a viable operation in St Vincent and the Grenadines. After four years’ presence in the country, the company was able to plant just over 200 of the projected 7,000 acres of cocoa.

Allen, the interim COPCO chairman, said that farmers should look past the planting of cocoa only, and focus on the creation of a full industry, which would transform the livelihood of the farmers and the agricultural sector in the country.

“Let us advise farmers frankly, a good one acre of cocoa will yield 2,000 pounds of fermented dried beans a year… an excellent first class acre can produce 3,000 pounds; in today’s cocoa world, very few cocoa farms produce that quantity, while a mediocre cocoa field will yield 800 pounds.

“So, the earnings from a pure cocoa stand will yield about $5,000 to $18,000 an acre; cost of production for that acre could vary between $1,000 and $5,000 per acre.

“$18,000 per acre is not worth it,” Allen said.

One acre of land with other crops could produce twice or three times as much.

To transform our livelihoods and our children’s, and our communities, COPCO advises thus: don’t sell cocoa beans; process them in a cooperative factory in which you have shares.

“This means we must pursue the best practices in plant selection, cultivation, fermenting and drying, in sorting and storing, in manufacturing and cooperative ethics.

“Can we do it? Yes, we can,” Allen said.(JJ)

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