Call to revive 50k hectares of abandoned land

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

GREETINGS: Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy Lichun Zhou shakes hands with director of the UWI, St Augustine campus’ Cocoa Research Centre, Prof Pathmanathan Umaharan. PHOTO COURTESY THE UWI

PROFESSOR Pathmanathan Umaharan, director of UWI’s Cocoa Research Centre has outlined a transformative vision for making cocoa farming a prosperous business.

Addressing the centre’s annual research and development symposium under the theme: improving cocoa productivity and quality while managing risks, Umaharan outlined initiatives which he said will revolutionise the cocoa sector.

A UWI release on Wednesday said that recognising the unique socio-economic environments, risks, and aspirations that diversify the nation, Umaharan emphasised the futility of a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

“Although TT is a small country, we must acknowledge our diverse landscape and tailor our strategies accordingly.

“We must collaborate, fine-map cost drivers, comprehend risks and threats, and work in harmony to recommend bespoke varieties, technologies, best practices, and business models that pave the way for your success. Your triumph should serve as the measure of our achievement,” he said.

Drawing attention to 50,000 hectares of abandoned cocoa land across the country, he called for government and institutions to embrace a nuanced perspective.

He said by comprehending the intricate interplay of risks, socio-economic factors, and community-level dynamics, stakeholders can forge a united front that propels cocoa farming into a thriving industry.

The centre under the guidance of Umarahan and his team renders support by their scientific and technological knowledge, certification, post-harvest support, chocolate-making expertise, breeding support, and disease screening.