Hon Karl Samuda (2nd left), Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, examines cocoa beans which have been processed by the power nutcracker in the foreground, one of several chocolate equipment manufactured by Cocoatown. Minister Samuda was touring several displays at the International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre’s 2nd Conference, Symposium and Chocolate Exposition, held at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston today (February 6). Others, from left, are Balu Balasubramanian, chief executive officer and Andal Balau, president, both of Cocoatown, and Vernon Barrett, international business consultant of Newer Worlds in the United Kingdom.
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon Karl Samuda, has issued an appeal for the expansion of the cocoa industry in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.
The Minister made the appeal while speaking today, February 6, at the at the opening ceremony for the International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre’s 2nd Conference, Symposium and Chocolate Exposition, held at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston.
Minister Samuda stressed the fact that in spite of the vast potential of the fine-flavoured cocoa industry, production in Jamaica, for example, had declined by about 50 per cent in recent years.
The agriculture minister said that it was his mission to “put right, all that has not gone right in the cocoa industry" and identified a number of actions to be taken to resuscitate the sector. Among the initiatives are value addition; the introduction of new resilient strains of the crop; special teams from the Ministry to focus on improved extension services; closer cooperation between Government and the farmers and the introduction of new legislation.
In terms of the new legislation, Minister Samuda said this would enable the separation of the regulation and the protection of the brand, on one hand, and facilitate privatisation on the other, so that farmers could independently price and market their own produce and so increase competition in the marketplace.
With reference to the outbreak of the Frosty Pod Rot of Cocoa Disease in sections of the island, Minister Samuda reassured participants that a containment strategy was now being pursued and farmers were currently reaping cocoa.
Government, Minister Samuda said, will do everything to facilitate the expansion of cocoa and will support the sector by providing technical and management support to farmers.
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