Tapping into the cocoa pods

Guyana Chronicle
May 23, 2001

THE cultivation of organic cocoa is yet another step that would add to the continuing importance of agriculture to the country's economy.

Organic cocoa has recently been given prominence and all indications are that it will play important roles in contributing to the welfare of farmers and bringing in foreign exchange.

The latest indication, and a welcome one at that, is that soon Guyana will be exporting dried cocoa beans to Europe where these will be processed and manufactured into chocolate.

This will certainly encourage farmers, not only in Region One where organic cocoa is currently being cultivated, but in other regions where cocoa could be grown commercially to resuscitate and/ or move into organic cocoa cultivation.

In the past there was a vibrant cocoa trade in Guyana with local businessmen buying up the cocoa pods. They then processed the pods and sold the ground cocoa to make a beverage.

However, the trade and the production of the fruit dropped as times changed until the visit to Guyana last year February of Britain's Prince Charles. During his visit the Prince assured stakeholders of the excellent prospect of cultivating and exporting organic cocoa which is in very high demand overseas.

The Guyana Government in its continuing efforts to diversify the economy, through the Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock, has encouraged farmers to move into organic cocoa cultivation wherever it is feasible.

The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) is also expected to help identify areas where the crop could be grown in Guyana.

This is indeed good news for farmers here because once they could move into top gear and produce organic cocoa in commercial quantities, they can be assured of a very lucrative market in Europe.

A vibrant organic cocoa industry could lead to a factory right here in Guyana in the long-term to make the same chocolate that would be manufactured in Britain from local cocoa.

This would lead to a cheaper end product because transportation cost would be negligible and sugar and milk, two of the main ingredients in the making of chocolate, are found here.

Guyana would then be in a position to create more employment for its citizens and earn more foreign currency by exporting the end product.

We believe there is tremendous potential for the cocoa industry, but more efforts should be made to encourage farmers to go into large scale production.

There could be only two things said about this. One, that it is good for the diversification of the economy and two, that it is good for the industry itself.

Guyana has thousands of hectares of land yet to be cultivated. Time to put the experts and scientists to work, and let them identify suitable areas where organic cocoa could be grown.

Guyana must strive towards adding innovations to the agriculture sector by tapping into the vast resources known to exist.

Time to crack open the cocoa pods.