News Releases

Modernising the cocoa sector - Ministry supports Cocoa Research Centre’s commitment

For Release Upon Receipt - April 15, 2016

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. April 15, 2016 – Senator the Honourable Clarence Rambharat, Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries says his Ministry pledges to implement good governance and structure as the driving forces for the growth, productivity and sustained development of the cocoa industry.  The Minister was the feature speaker at The UWI’s Cocoa Research Centre’s (CRC) second symposium, organized by the CRC’s International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre (IFCIC) on April 6, and he said the goal is strengthening Trinidad and Tobago as a Cocoa Centre of Excellence dedicated to technology and innovative development. 

The symposium presented the CRC's substantive work by its scientists, associates and graduate students in research and development. It included subjects like cashing in on the International Cocoa Gene Bank’s location in Trinidad, building resistance to disease, climate change mitigation, quality management and certification in the industry and along the value chain, understanding genetic origin, diversity and food and beverage product development. Themed Supporting Economic Diversification along the Cocoa Value Chain through Research Innovation, the symposium reflected a number of critical and important initiatives being carried out by industry stakeholders.  

In terms of the current issues facing the sector, the Minister acknowledged that there was no ‘quick fix’ to the labour shortage problem but viable options would be examined. He also stated that rural communities would be enabled to become more productive contributors to the economy in agriculture and reiterated the importance and positive impact of building the capacity of women and youth in the sector. 

In his remarks, CRC Director, Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan thanked Minister Rambharat for demonstrating his continued commitment to the sector and cocoa industry. “The work of the Cocoa Research Centre is focused on modernising the cocoa sector to support economic diversification by taking decisive steps towards improving productivity, overcoming losses, managing quality, certification and value addition through product development,” he added.  

Among the presenters at the symposium were Dr. Rikhi Permanand CEO Economic Development Advisory Board who shared the work of the Ministry's Central Experimental Station towards organising and supporting 12 cocoa clusters throughout Trinidad. Ms. Karen Lee Lum, Project Manager of the IFCIC presented a Labour Resolution Model coming out of consultation with small, medium and large estates as a mechanism for resolving the binding labour constraints facing the industry. Ms. Jude Lee Sam of the Montserrat Cocoa Growers' Cooperative shared the Cooperative's success model and announced their recently conferred award from Rainforest Alliance and future plans for geographic identification and the global benefits that it offers. Ms. Ashley Parasram of the Trinidad & Tobago Fine Cocoa Company Ltd, shared lessons from a private sector perspective and the importance of taking a fully collaborative approach from research to market penetration and promotion. Mr Shyamal Chandradathsingh of InvesTT shared his agency's focus on being a transformative force in the cocoa sector by bringing both local and foreign investment to the sector and strengthening our presence in the export market. Dr Darin Sukha of the CRC shared the Centre's many programmes targeted at building the quality and developmental capacity of micro and small entrepreneurs in value addition, not the least of which is building value chain connectivity. He also posited that the industry can only grow if we “pooled our skills based on expertise, to ensure that scarce resources are maximised and focused."  

To access these presentations, and for further information, connect with the CRC via their website at




About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)