March 16, 2017:  ‘A Strategic Plan to modernize the cocoa industry in Trinidad and Tobago is being finalized … a Plan that includes an implementation and monitoring framework; one that will identify Government’s support and intervention, including thematic areas such as production and productivity; product development; international markets; research technology and innovation; and a regulatory framework, among others’said Director of the Cocoa Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs. Jacqueline Rawlins, while speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Cocoa Research and Development Symposium, 2017 held on Wednesday 15th March, 2017 at the Institute of Critical Thinking, UWI, St Augustine Campus.


Referencing the theme of the Symposium 'Research and Development Initiatives in support of economic diversification’ in his Feature Address, the Agriculture Minister, Senator the Honourable Clarence Rambharat said there is a need to ‘craft an implementation plan; we have already established the credibility of the cocoa product internationally; we have already established ourselves as a good producer of high quality value added products.  The question is how can we work all that backwards so that we can fix all elements of the value chain so that we can do it consistently?  With this Strategic Plan we are trying to fix the model that does not work all the time [for] we need to be able to match production to markets’.


The Minister further stated that ‘cocoa can help us to define, create and sustain a model that can be applicable across all the other elements of agriculture’.  He referenced the well-established poultry sub-sector as an example on how this can be done when an industry is led or driven by the private sector.

‘I value the discussion.  Make all this great work and rich material available to our farming and national community’ were the Minister’s closing words to the Symposium participants.


The purpose of the Symposium was to ‘showcase research and technology development’ said Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan, Professor of Genetics and Director, Cocoa Research Centre.  ‘This is a time for us to think innovatively and to work collectively and collaboratively with limited resources – the farmers, the processors, the product developers, the innovators – to do what you do more effectively and efficiently’ he said.


Other speakers included Mr. Winston Rudder, Chairman, Cocoa Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago and Agricultural Development Bank; Professor Path Umaharan, and Professor Rhoda Reddock, Deputy Principal.


Thematic areas covered during the one-day event included Conservation and Exploitation of Genetic Resources; Mitigation of Risk – Frosty Pod, Cadmium Bioaccumulation; Branding, Start-up Support and Market Development; Food Technology and Product Development; Innovations in Agronomy to Improve Productivity; Reducing the Cost of Production through Mechanisation – Small Holder Innovations to Support Farmer Profitability; and Investment Support through Development of an Information System.


Included among the audience were representatives of Angostura; Mars; World Cocoa Foundation; Cocoa Research Association of the United Kingdom; and Cambridge University, among others.