Trinidad & Tobago must ramp up its cocoa production

TRINIDAD and Tobago cannot continue with its low volumes of cocoa production but it must be ramped up, says chairman of the Cocoa Development Company Winston Rudder.

He was speaking as officials of the company met with the Public Administration (Enterprises) Committee at the Parliament building Wednesday.

Rudder said the impetus for the company is the critical role cocoa can and does play as a strategic commodity and can be beneficial to agricultural development, economic diversification, foreign exchange and improve livelihoods.

He said the world cocoa production is between 4.5 million to 4.9 million metric tonnes and five per cent of the market was high quality, fine or flavoured cocoa. He pointed out TT is one of 10 countries in the world recognised by the International Cocoa Organisation for having 100 per cent high quality cocoa.

Rudder said the market for high quality, fine or flavoured cocoa was relatively small, highly specialised, extremely lucrative and growing. He reported the price for raw high quality cocoa beans was between US $3,500 to $10,000 per metric tonne while for ordinary bulk cocoa was $2,200 per tonne or less. He explained the reason for the high price was the high quality end products from high quality cocoa.

He said in the 1920s TT was producing 25,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans but now it was barely 500 metric tonnes. He said overall volumes have gone down significantly for various reasons.