Revitalizing Cocoa | Local features
Under the theme “Exploring Opportunities in a Fine/Flavor Cocoa Paradise”, InvesTT, in collaboration with the European Union Delegation to Trinidad and Tobago, launched the Trinitario Cocoa Webinar Series with over 370 participants from Continental Europe, UK, USA, Caribbean and Latin America.
Held on February 16, the first episode of the three-part webinar series aimed to stimulate investment, innovation and entrepreneurship along the cocoa value chain, through mutually beneficial partnerships between actors. cocoa locals and European investors.
In her address, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon reaffirmed the government’s commitment to revitalizing the cocoa industry and strengthening trade relations with the European Union. She said: “The government is providing the necessary support and incentives to ensure a sustainable and viable cocoa industry that is locally based and internationally renowned. She urged chocolate makers interested in operating in Trinidad and Tobago to take advantage of some of the existing incentives that are offered to agro-processors in that country under ExporTT. These include the Research and Development Fund which helped the Montserrat Cocoa Farmers’ Co-operative Society Ltd obtain the first geographical indication in Trinidad and Tobago.
Grant fund facilities, co-financing facilities, export trade programs and the Export Boosting Initiative are also available for agro-processors to increase production, increase exports and grow. increase competitiveness. Cocoa investors have also been encouraged to take advantage of the availability of land for agro-processing in eTecK’s Moruga Agro-Industrial and Agricultural Processing Park.
Minister Gopee-Scoon endorsed the webinar series initiative and stressed that it “will set the stage for further engagement with respect to joint ventures and investment opportunities to leverage the strengths and unique successes of the Trinidad and Tobago cocoa industry”.
With a rich culture of cocoa farming dating back to the 18th century and Trinidad and Tobago’s globally renowned reputation for producing some of the finest fine/flavored cocoas in the world, the twin island republic now presents itself with a unique opportunity to to pack its history and premium Trinitario cocoa beans to meet the growing demand for quality cocoa in foreign markets.
Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries Minister Clarence Rambharat said private sector investment and involvement is needed in revitalizing the T&T cocoa industry “from a modern approach to plant breeding in the development of new fields with value-added technology”.
He praised the work of the International Innovation Center for Fine Cocoa, an EU-funded project in 2015 set up to create model farms and processing facilities to advance the cocoa industry. “Even though we grow the best bean, what we do with the bean in terms of drying, processing and preparing for export affects its marketability and price in addition to the quality of the end product of high-value chocolate. added.
Cooperation with the European Union
European Union Ambassador Peter Cavendish spoke proudly of the EU’s 45-year commitment to Trinidad and Tobago’s cocoa industry, saying that “the promotion of cocoa from Trinidad and Tobago has been a joint and passionate work”. In addition to market access through the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, areas of EU assistance include the development of the largest gene bank in the world (International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad), the oldest cocoa research center at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, support for SMEs to comply with EU standards and support for CARIRI.
The European Union is Caricom’s second largest cocoa market. During his presentation, the EU Ambassador pointed out that the market value of the global cocoa industry is around €115 billion, with half of all cocoa consumed by Europeans. “EU consumers will pay extra for the best cocoa in the world and Trinidad and Tobago’s cocoa is, without a doubt, the best in the world. He went on to say that there is a value investment opportunity because “after Covid-19, this key sector will allow exports of high-end products to earn foreign currency by satisfying quality consumers”.
Commenting on the EU regulation on deforestation which came into force in November 2021, the EU ambassador encouraged European investors to consider opportunities for growing cocoa in native forests or abandoned estates in Trinidad. and Tobago. The impact of the legislation is that companies will have to prove that their products have not contributed to the destruction of forests before entering European markets.
Cocoa Research Center–support
Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan, Director of the Center for Cocoa Research at the University of the West Indies, delved into innovative research available to investors to support companies along the value chain. Local and foreign investors can utilize the expertise of the Cocoa Research Center and the services of the International Fine Cocoa Innovation Center to better position their business for success and efficiency across the value chain . Cocoa entrepreneurs have access to training programs that include apprenticeship training, chocolate-making masterclass sessions, and business support through business and technology incubators, among others. Professor Umaharan highlighted the centre’s strategy to attract investors through the comprehensive mapping of agro-ecological zones – a group of 44 cocoa growing communities registered for soil quality, nutrient profiles, climatic conditions, risks, potential and constraints. He said “being a small country, we can become the model for the cocoa industries in the world”.
InvesTT – Ready to help investors
Franka Costelloe, President of InvesTT, listed some of the cocoa investment opportunities that can be pursued as joint ventures for local and international investors. These include:
• The development of a chocolate manufacturing plant to produce branded specialty chocolates targeting the global niche market.
• The development and commercialization of a state-of-the-art cocoa innovation laboratory to support the growth of the fine or flavored cocoa industry.
• Marketing and regional and international distribution of cocoa varieties.
• Investment in agrotourism projects.
Sekou Alleyne, President of InvesTT, expressed the agency’s willingness to lead the charge in facilitating potential local and international cocoa investors, with the aim of generating foreign exchange and revitalizing a financially viable and sustainable cocoa industry. in Trinidad and Tobago. Noting that InvesTT is responsible for promoting rental in some of the industrial parks in the state, he encouraged agro-processors to take full advantage of the industrial space offered for rental at Moruga Agro-Processing and Light Industrial eTecK Park as the ideal location for their investment. .