Minister Singh: “T&T committed to revitalising and expanding the cocoa sector”
The Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Avinash Singh said that cocoa production in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) has been on the decline and the country was not benefitting from the crop’s full potential insofar as its impact on foreign exchange earnings, food security, entrepreneurial activity, agrotourism, employment and rural development, were concerned. For this reason he said, the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF), through its implementation agency – the Cocoa Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (CDCTTL) – remained committed to “revitalising and expanding the sector through the development of the entire cocoa value chain and by making it an integral part of the country’s agroforestry systems thereby creating environmental, economic and social benefits for citizens.”
He made these comments earlier today (Wednesday 25th May, 2022), during his presentation at the second episode of the Trinitario Cocoa Webinar Series 2022. The event which comprised of two (2) panel discussions, was hosted by the Investment promotion Agency of Trinidad and Tobago (InvesTT) – under the theme, ‘Trinidad and Tobago: An International Centre for Cocoa Excellence and Innovation’.
In his address, Minister Singh singled out cocoa as a strategic crop in our nation’s economic diversification thrust whilst identifying with T&T’s comparative advantage as an exclusive fine/flavour cocoa producer which continued to be cemented through its successes at the International Cocoa Awards, growing demand and the premium prices it fetches in the global marketplace.
Pursuant to fulfilling the Ministry’s aforementioned objective, Minister Singh noted that the CDCTTL has been tasked with implementing a number of strategies which include: increasing the national production of high quality fine/flavour cocoa beans; creating and managing a recognisable T&T brand image; developing new acreages and rehabilitating abandoned acreages; training farmers to grow cocoa using different cropping systems; supporting and promoting the development, manufacture and use of local cocoa value added products; promoting agrotourism; increasing entrepreneurial activity in cocoa and; supporting a facilitative environment for the injection of private investment in the sector.
Minister Singh added: “The MALF is increasing its focus on providing support to cocoa farmers and entrepreneurs by developing new varieties and by mobilising resources to increase the supply of high-quality planting material that are disease resistant and high yielding. Additionally, we continue to conduct critical research through our collaboration with the Cocoa Research Centre of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and our provision of a range of growth stimulating incentives to farmers which enable them to defray costs in: land preparation; soil conservation and amelioration; water conservation; the establishment of infrastructure, security and the establishment/expansion of value-added processing facilities.”
Also presenting at the two (2)-hour Webinar were the: Minister of Trade and Industry, Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon; Ambassador to the Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency Peter Cavendish; Director of the Cocoa Research Centre (UWI), Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan; President of InvesTT, Mr. Sekou Alleyne; Chairman of the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI), Mr. Hayden Ferreira and; Co-founder and Director of Ubergreen Organics Ltd. (the lead organisation of the Organic Fine Cocoa and Chocolate Cluster Project), Mr. Tobias Schulze Frenking.