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Chocolate bars now being produced in SVG

Chocolate bars now being produced in SVG

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Vincentians would soon be able to purchase chocolate made locally from locally harvested cocoa beans.

The dark chocolate bar, which has been described as “delicious, not too sweet and excellent quality,” is being produced by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cocoa Company (SVGCC).

At a launch of the product on December 22, at Flow Wine Bar, Harry Marriot, chair of the board of directors of the SVGCC,{{more}} told the audience that he had always intended to make chocolate as soon as possible, because of the profitability of the product.

“As a profitable business in its own right, to add value whilst most of the cocoa will be exported…the company recognizes it is important to be seen adding value in St Vincent and employing people whenever possible, to give a boost to the tourist industry and produce an international product all Vincentians can be proud of and to raise awareness of what it is trying to do, to grow a viable cocoa industry in St Vincent.”

Marriot also stated that he is totally committed to making this cocoa project work thorough investing money, jobs and nursery plants.

“Investing a very large amount of money which will potentially run to many millions of dollars over the years ahead; providing support for over 100 farmers, as well as guaranteeing to buy their cocoa; investing in jobs; growing to 60 employees in little over a year, as potentially providing many more jobs, up to 1,000, if all goes well; operating a nursery with a capacity of 200,000 plants per year and building a cocoa processing plant,” the board chair explained.

However, Marriot indicated that the availability of land is the biggest problem the company has faced so far, noting that they have bought and planted their own lands to try and alleviate the problem; however, a further 2,000 acres would be needed in order for the industry to be viable.

“On taking over the business last year, the Government promised land would be made available for the company to lease. Nothing has transpired so far, but hopefully this will happen very soon,” he continued.

The company hopes to set up a factory in Kingstown and be in full production by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar congratulated the SVGCC on the launch of an excellent product and echoed Marriott’s statement that a lot has been invested in the industry.

“They have invested significant sums of monies in terms of pruning the existing cocoa plantations, the rehabilitation of over 600 acres of cocoa and, as noted by the chairman of the board, they intend to continue to purchase lands from the private sector and I know that there are several workings where they are seeking to obtain lands from different owners,” Caesar stated.

With the opening of the Argyle International Airport around the corner, the minister said that it was his wish to see the chocolate bars in souvenir shops, and for them to be exported to persons in the diaspora.

Caesar disclosed that a request had been made by the company for crown lands, but a decision on the request would be made by the Ministry of Lands and Surveys and certain checks needed to take place.

“…so due diligence would have to be done, environmental assessments would have to be done on the parcels of lands and we will be in contact with them in due course.”

Caesar noted that apart from cocoa, the Government is looking to revitalize the coconut industry and begin coffee production.

“The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has just signed a memorandum of understanding with an investor from the United Kingdom to establish some 2,000 acres of coffee here in St Vincent. So, it’s not only cocoa, but we are also looking at coffee as a very important crop going forward.

“We are also working on the rehabilitation of our coconut plantations; many of them are over 100 years old and are dying and we know internationally, regionally and locally, the critical importance that coconut oil is playing in terms of health products. Soursop is also playing an important role in the medical fields and we also intend to increase our cultivation of soursop. So it’s a thrust in the right direction and I really want to congratulate again the cocoa company for doing excellent work also,” the minister continued.

Caesar congratulated the SVGCC on a successful launch and expressed his pride in the locally made product.

“I really want to take this opportunity to wish the company all the very best; it’s a proud moment for every Vincentian.”

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