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Opportunities for Cocoa

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There is a Programme to Support the Cocoa Industry in the Caribbean, which embraces about 80,000 farmers in our region. In Grenada, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago, some 9,000 farmers are part of the programme and the European Centre for Development of Enterprise (CDE) is a spearheading it, along with the UWI’s Cocoa Research Unit and The French Centre for Agricultural Research and Development (CIRAD).{{more}} This cocoa Agribusiness programme has 2 main goals, and farmers in SVG must pay close attention here. The goals are to:

  • Generate higher incomes for the benefit of cocoa producers, especially smallholders;
  • Improve the Caribbean external trade by increasing the quantity, quality and value of cocoa exported.

Notice this, the intentions of this programme are to raise the income of cocoa growers and to bring in more foreign monies to the region from the overseas sale of our cocoa. One of the activities in the programme is “Support to Small-Scale Cocoa Manufacturers and Chocolate Makers Operating in the Caribbean Area.”

In practical terms, under this programme, for example, Grenada cocoa growers who exported 500 tons in 2010 at a value of EC $5 million (or near $5.00 /lb), will get help to produce more, earn more, export more and manufacture more chocolate. (You can get more information at the CDE website www.cde.int).

Can a programme like that bring benefit to our agriculture in SVG, and to our cocoa industry plans? Definitely. Apart from that European led programme, there are other regional and international agencies that farmers’ organizations can work with to get our cocoa industry on a sound footing. A good opportunity to meet other persons in the cocoa business will be at the Caribbean Cocoa Forum in June in Tobago. Now, why do I bring all this kind of information forward, of what use is it? Truly, such facts are only for “show off”, to show how much I have read about cocoa, unless I connect them with this point. SVG farmers will have to become organized in a national business organization in order to enter the regional and international cocoa industry. I admit that one or a few individual farmers with contacts and drive can make headway in this business, but for cocoa growers to tap into the European (CDE) or other cocoa support programmes, we have to take two steps: first we must be soundly organized, and second, we must bring our government to cooperate with us in this agribusiness venture. Opportunities are there for us, and Organization is a must to make use of Opportunities.

JOIN UP NOW, WHY?

I think that, as farmers, we have to decide which way we must take to revitalize our agriculture. One way is for us to wait along the roadside for a project vehicle to come along, blowing its horn and inviting us to get on board. We have travelled on board some of these projects already with mixed results. Another way, is – not to wait at the roadside but – to call one another to grab our tools and start to plan our journey, putting together what we have and moving on from there. That is our choice: Wait, or Organize. When we organize together now, we are putting our heads and hands together to share a vision of where we want to go. When we organize together now, we get a sense and a measure of what we already have as resources among us. When we organize together now, we get to choose how we want to relate to each other- democratically, as in a co-operative, or money-wise as in a company. When we organize together now, we strengthen ourselves before we negotiate with, and approach other agencies- whether governments, CDE, Armajaro, Mitsubishi or the banks. When we organize together now, we can support each other and understand each other and know what to expect from each other. When we organize together now, it makes it easier later to work together to set up our cocoa fermenting and drying centers or chocolate factory. When we organize together now, it will be harder for any agent to come between us and pull us apart and weaken us, so as to strengthen themselves.

Even before we clear the land to plant our shade trees and cocoa beans, we can join the cocoa producers’ organization, decide how much we will pay as our share, and share faith in our future with God. The Cocoa Producers Organization is on the block. Talk it through.

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