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Plans underway to modernise cocoa industry

Monday, March 20 2017

Director of the Cocoa Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago, Jacqueline Rawlins, says “A Strategic Plan to modernise the cocoa industry in Trinidad and Tobago is being finalised” and the plan includes an implementation and monitoring framework; “one that will identify Government’s support and intervention, including thematic areas such as production and produc t i v ity ; product development; international markets; research technology and innovation; and a regulatory framework, among others.” Rawlins was speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the Cocoa Research and Development Symposium, 2017 held last Wednesday at the Institute of Critical Thinking, at the University of the West Indies (The UWI), St Augustine Campus.

The symposium, “Research and Development Initiatives in support of economic diversification” also heard from Agriculture Minister, Clarence Rambharat, who delivered the feature address in which he said there is a need to “craft an implementation plan; we have already established the credibility of the cocoa product internationally; we have already e s t a b l i s h e d 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.” Rambharat added that “cocoa can help us to define, create and sustain a model that can be applicable across all the other elements of agriculture,” such as the well-established poultry sub-sector. “I value the discussion,” he said, “Make all this great work and rich material available to our farming and national community.” The symposium was intended to “showcase research and technology development” according to Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan, Professor of Genetics and Director at the 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.” The symposium was attended by representatives of Mars, the World Cocoa Foundation; the Cocoa Research Association of the United Kingdom; Cambridge University and Angostura.

Also addressing the symposium were Winston Rudder, Chairman, Cocoa Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago and Agricultural Development Bank; Professor Umaharan, and Professor Rhoda Reddock, Deputy Principal, The UWI.

Participants discussed 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.



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