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Local cocoa quality to be strengthened with the use of new national standards

May 9, 2019:- Minister of Trade and Industry, Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon, on May 8, presented two new cocoa standards to The University of the West Indies (UWI) which were developed by the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS) and are intended to improve the quality of locally produced cocoa beans. The handover took place at The UWI during the Cocoa Research Centre’s (CRC) Annual Research and Development Symposium. According to Senator Gopee-Scoon, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is committed to supporting downstream agro-processing as a form of economic diversification. Cocoa is of considerable economic importance as it generates export revenues, can create sustainable employment and facilitate the growth of new industry. Benchmarking in the cocoa industry, she added, and application of standards will undoubtedly strengthen our competitiveness.

Citing substantial work being undertaken by the Government to develop the fine and flavour cocoa industry in Trinidad and Tobago, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Clarence Rambharat indicated that convergence of the various components and the efforts of stakeholders involved in the cocoa industry was required for the sector’s growth.

The standards, which were initiated by the CRC, will promote the continued expansion of the local cocoa industry, enhance its competitiveness and improve access to international markets. The standards – TTS 646:2019 and TTS 647:2019 were developed in collaboration with the Research Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, the Cocoa Development Company Limited of Trinidad and Tobago and the CRC. The entities provided key inputs into the standards which specify the requirements for sampling, test methods, classification, packaging and marking for cocoa beans. Their application is expected to not only positively impact the quality parameters of locally produced cocoa, but also facilitate the drive towards national certification of cocoa quality; and support the establishment of a sustainable, recognized brand for Trinidad and Tobago cocoa.

Mr Derek Luk Pat, Executive Director at the TTBS outlined the value of the new standards to the TTBS’ strategic priorities including the implementation of the Cabinet approved National Quality Policy. “In the global marketplace,” he stated, “Trinidad and Tobago’s products and services must be competitive on the international stage in order to facilitate sustained economic growth and earn foreign exchange.”

Central Statistical Office (CSO) data indicate that, an estimated TT $30 million in cocoa was exported for the period 2016 – 2018 (TT $ 9.4 million in 2016, TT $10.8 million in 2017 & TT $ 9.7 in 2018) while TT $ 235.6 million in chocolates was exported for the same period (TT $66 million in 2016, TT $96 million in 2017 and TT $ 73.6 million in 2018).