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Caribbean Nations Seek to Claim Portion of $1B Cocoa Industry With New Research Center

A cacao plantation (CJ Photo)

A cacao plantation (CJ Photo)

The University of the West Indies’ Cocoa Research Centre has embarked on a major new project: to transform the region’s cocoa sector.

The new project, dubbed the International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre, is the brainchild of the Cocoa Research Centre and its partners, funded by a $2.17 million grant from the European Union.

It’s all part of a bid to capture a greater share of the $100 billion global cocoa industry, which is slated to grow by another 20 percent over the next decade.

“The Caribbean is held in high regard as a cocoa-producing region because most countries produce a fine or aromatic (as opposed to bulk) cocoa,” said Kathrin Renner, International Cooperation Officer of the Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago. “I think we would all agree that the Caribbean region holds great potential to be a major player in the international fine cocoa and chocolate trade and the work of the International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre is bringing us closer to that reality. This is why the EU is happy to support it.”

So how does the Caribbean do it?

The plan is for “Innovative strategies, science and technology, farm management techniques, business models, and extension,” according to Virginia Sopyla, Associate Director of The World Cocoa Foundation.

“The International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre will play an important role in this process, and there are other positive signs of a growing momentum in this direction,” she said.

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