(prensa.com)Aside from the turtles, the beaches, calypso and West Indian great food, cocoa is another feature of the province of Bocas del Toro.
Although no enhancement has been given, the crop covers more than 2 000 hectares, especially in the poorest townships and Valle del Risco, Almirante and Chiriqui Grande district, residents of the protected areas of Palo Seco Protected Forest and Park Internacional La Amistad.
Bocas del Toro is the province of cocoa production in the Republic, with an average annual production of 1.2 million pounds.
July Sanjur, member of the Agricultural Silvo (Asap), recalled that the activity was introduced in the province by the multinational Chiquita Brands, in early 1900. Were brought to Trinidad many varieties known as Trinity or UF, which were managed by farmers of ethnic Afro-Caribbean, initiated in cultivation.
Since 1970, with falling prices in the international market and the proliferation of pests such as thrush (fungus), the activity was less important in economic impact when compared to livestock, for example.
However, from the standpoint of social and environmental sustainability, “cacaocultura” is a significant activity for the province as it is practiced by the most humble people, including members of ethnic and naso Ngäbe who inhabit the most inaccessible areas .
In order to improve the activity, the ASAP has been promoting the establishment of a cocoa processing plant in the province of Bocas del Toro, which has been substantiated by market research, design and feasibility studies.
It has received support from the Regional Environmental Authority and the Department of Agribusiness of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Agree, Orlando Lozada, president of ASAP, a chocolate in the province, run by the producers, they would get a better price if they sell the grain dry as commercialized as an added value.
To Lozada, cocoa is a crop, cultural precedents in the province, very noble, which is not exacting in soil and can be managed without synthetic inputs. In addition, trees grown in association with timber or which provide shade.
According Asap, it is urgent to put to this initiative by Minister of Agriculture, Emilio Kieswetter, with the intention of presenting the proposal, since its impact is positive.
In addition, the price of cocoa beans up and down, but the price of any chocolate is maintained or rises, one reason why it is time to take Bocas product processing, which for years has been exported with no value added .
In Bocas del Toro, an estimated 200 thousand hectares of cacao agroforestry systems, and that has not made a precise study to determine the actual area sown.
The production, according to the Cooperativa de Cacao Bocas is at 1.5 quintal per hectare per year, which is one of the lowest in Central America. The price of a pound of dry cocoa beans ranged between $ 1.10 and $ 0.90 for organic.
An average producer, has between 5 and 10 hectares. However, the production obtained is very low, since the lack of technology, management and good prices that encourage activity have led many parcels are abandoned.
Annual cocoa production in the province is close to 1.2 million pounds, according to the Comptroller, which is exported to Europe by traders in Costa Rica. Another batch, through the Isthmus Kokoa Company, of Columbus.