Covid-19 may just be the push needed for the cocoa industry to advance further, as the Grenada Cocoa Association (GCA) has recorded a 2% increase in production in one parish, despite the implications of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown imposed as a result of a state of emergency that was experienced here a few months ago.
The increase is one of the accomplishments of the association in 2020. Chairman of the GCA, Christopher Williams, revealed the increase in production in St David at the GCA’s Annual General Meeting, on 17 September 2020, at the Deluxe Cinema, Grenville, St Andrew.
This increase has prompted the association to recommence the buying of wet cocoa, and the processing of cocoa beans, having received the permission of the Grenada Co-operative Nutmeg Association (GCNA), to utilise its Marli facility for that particular purpose.
He said the association is pleased to move in that direction, as they aim to meet the international standard status of its buyers, as well as maintain the fine flavour of cocoa beans. “It is because of this we are now able to say to our farmers, that our aim is to offer to them no less than 80¢ out of each dollar we receive for the beans. This commitment stands and we are not going to lower that,” he disclosed.
This is the first time that the association ends the cocoa year without much stock on hand, he added. “We look forward to being able to continue to manage our overdraft so it would not be a burden for our farmers.”
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Michael Stephen, congratulated the association on the efforts to increase production in St David. “The ministry applauds the efforts of the farmers in St David, which at the same time challenges farmers in other parishes to replicate this as part of the national drive to increase production. This shows that Covid-19 may just be the impetus needed for the association to realise that they need to continue with value addition, which would appeal to diverse markets and shipping logistics that are less cumbersome than shipping of cocoa beans in bags,” he stated.
“While an increase in production is excellent news for the industry, it would definitely be more refreshing if such increase coincides with the increase of prices on the international market, thus realising greater benefits for the hard-working farmers,” he added.
St David is now the third largest producer of cocoa on the island. The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands challenges the board of directors of the Grenada Cocoa Association to be more strategic in the negotiations to avert further deductions in pricing. The GCA will continue working with the Ministry of Agriculture to increase cocoa production in parishes, through the OECS Regional Agricultural Competitiveness Project (AGRICOM). The association is currently working on solar energy for the Diamond Chocolate Factory and the opening of the restaurant facility; a boost for the agri-tourism sector, crop insurance for farmers and modernisation of the Grenada Cocoa Association (GCA) Act.
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