Caribbean Fine Cocoa Forum

Challenge
The cocoa producing and processing industries in the Caribbean are an integral part of rural farming communities. Countries such as Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica between them have tens of thousands of rural, low income farmers and workers engaged in this industry serving hundreds of thousands of dependents, but it is in a parlous state of development. Although considerable urban migration has occurred across most Caribbean island states, the rural farming communities are still a significant economic entity, particularly in terms of numbers of people employed in most countries. They also account for a significant proportion of the poorer populations of these countries. 

Focus
The project will promote a successful, interdisciplinary, applied research approach to sustainable development for the Caribbean cocoa agro-industry sector, which will lead to poverty reduction amongst rural small cocoa farmers by providing them with greater income from crop yields, by-products and value-added cocoa products. More specifically, the project will establish a multi-stakeholder Caribbean cocoa network - Caribbean Fine Cocoa Forum (CFCF) - to link key regional research institutions to the principal cocoa industry boards, government ministries and the cocoa farming communities in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenadaand St Lucia to successfully deliver applied research applications in the field. It will also link this pan-Caribbean network to the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) and the Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy (RSCE).

Rationale
Historically, the Caribbean cocoa industry has been ‘second place’ to the much larger sugar and banana industry sectors across the Caribbean. However, these key mainstay crops of sugar cane and banana have in recent years suffered substantial decline due to, among other things, adverse changes to terms of trade and weather conditions. It is, therefore, important to identify alternative crops for providing viable livelihoods for the poor small farmer communities and the rural populations they serve, as well as to ensure that regional scientific research and government policy are aligned to support this new, evolving state of the Caribbean agricultural economy. Cocoa, in being an indigenous crop that can better survive adverse weather such as hurricanes, is an obvious alternative choice. Furthermore cocoa is usually already grown as a secondary or tertiary crop by many Caribbean banana farmers – planted adjacent to and at the same time as bananas, but not receiving the same attention and care as the primary banana cash crop.

The project will address the:

  • Lack of alignment between cocoa research institute priorities and small cocoa farmers’ practical needs.
  • Absence of true knowledge sharing across the Caribbean countries in the cocoa agricultural and agro-industry fields resulting in a lack of adoption of technological developments and poor competitiveness.
  • Absence of most Caribbean cocoa producers from international cocoa organisations and developments.
  • Under-utilisation of applied research to assist small cocoa farmers.

The constraints on small cocoa farmers arise from the absence of an information exchange point and of a shared agenda, limited funding and, for others, low prioritisation.

Method
Establishment of a pan-Caribbean Fine Cocoa Forum (CFCF) network

  • Research and documentation of the resources in the region which contribute to, and serve, the fine cocoa agro-industry in the public, private, voluntary, international and academic sectors.
  • Stage events, workshops and conferences to mobilise the CFCF into a successful interdisciplinary, applied research entity for promoting a sustainable, fine cocoa industry.
  • Design, development and maintenance a web-based resource for CFCF.

Development and introduction of fieldwork extension aides to impact 300 farmers

  • Production of audio-visual programming and dissemination in the field (via extension workers) of best practice cocoa production and harvesting techniques for cocoa farmers.
  • Piloting of Global Positioning System (GPS) applications for digital capture of information about diseases and damaged cocoa crops specifying their location and permitting monitoring and management of these crops.

Production, installation and commissioning of solar-powered dryers in Trinidad and Tobagoand Jamaica to use as substitutes to oil-fired dryers

  • Design and pilot dryers based on solar power for use in first stage drying for cocoa beans.
  • Design and building of alternative secondary drying solutions to the current oil-fired dryers.

Implementation of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HAACP) certification procedures in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago fermentaries

  • Definition of the HAACP process and development of a solution for applying HAACP procedure and certification to the industry sector.
  • Documentation of the HAACP activity for dissemination and application in the Caribbean.

Commercial development of value-added cocoa products for sale at tourist (and eco-tourist) markets across the Caribbean islands on a test-marketing basis

  • Collection of current practices and research on the production of value-added cocoa (by-)products.
  • Establishment or expansion of (existing) demonstration sites for the production of (by-) products and testing for new (tourism-based) domestic markets.
  • Development of a CFCF quality fine cocoa brand.

Rural regeneration based on demonstration of use of cocoa value-add and by-products for 100 small farmers on a pan-Caribbean basis

  • Engagement of cocoa farmers through focus groups to assess the current status of development and viability.
  • Economic modelling of small cocoa farms for comparison with prospective farm economics including additional cocoa products.
  • Development of a Rural Regeneration Plan around cocoa as a primary crop for encouraging co-operatives and associations.

Strengthening global linkages with international cocoa bodies such as ICCO (including RSCE)

  • Information exchange on project activities and initiatives (visits, conferences, website, etc.).
  • Invitation of representatives from ICCO and RSCE to participate and contribute to the three annual pan-Caribbean CFCF Conferences that are being organised by the project.

Outputs

  • Establishment of the Caribbean Fine Cocoa Forum (CFCF) network across the Caribbean, including a virtual internet presence.
  • Audio-visual programmes capturing and disseminating best cocoa production methods.
  • Pilot solar dryers in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica for field trials installed and commissioned.
  • Procedure for HAACP certification of cocoa processing in the Caribbean.
  • Increased cocoa production of small cocoa farmers.
  • Greater disposable income for small cocoa farmers.
  • Cocoa by-products and added-value products developed and sold.

Outcomes

  • Better integration between Caribbean research institutions and rural farmers with 150 research staff and policy makers.
  • 400 farmers trained in modern farming techniques.
  • More farmers engaged in primary cocoa production.
  • Best practices in cocoa production transferred to small farmers in the Caribbean region.
  • Improved development of value-added cocoa (by-)products for commercialisation in and beyond the Caribbean region.
Grant: AFS/2009/219020
Project duration: 36 months (from 17/10/2009 to 16/10/2012)
EC funding: EUR 624,096.00
Total budget: EUR 780,120.00
Project contact:

Prof. Denise-Margaret Thompson
The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT)
Centre for Production Systems
O’Meara Campus
Lots 74-98
O’Meara Industrial Park
Arima
Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: +1-868-642.8888 or +1-868-223.4888
Fax: +1-868-643.5615
E-mail: Denise.thompson [at] utt.edu.tt
Web: www.utt.edu.tt

CFCF
Vernon Barrett