News Releases

UWI Cocoa Research Centre calls for revival of 50,000 hectares of abandoned cocoa lands

For Release Upon Receipt - May 17, 2023

St. Augustine


[L-R] His Excellency Peter Cavendish - Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Delegation of the European Union; German Ambassador - Ute Köni, Professor Indar Ramnarine, Deputy Principal of The UWI St. Augustine Campus Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan Director of The UWI Cocoa Research Centre, Judith Brown School of Plant Sciences The University of Arizona, Mr. Amel Baksh  Acting Director of Research, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries and Mr. Winston Rudder, Chairman Cocoa Research Advisory Board.

 UWI St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago - Wednesday, May 17, 2023. In a momentous revelation, Professor Pathmanathan Umaharan, Director of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Cocoa Research Centre, unveiled a transformative vision for making cocoa farming a prosperous business in Trinidad and Tobago. Addressing an enthralled audience at The CRC's Annual Research and Development Symposium (CARDS), held under the theme "Improving Cocoa Productivity and Quality While Managing Risks," Professor Umaharan outlined initiatives to revolutionize the cocoa sector.

 Recognizing the unique socio-economic environments, risks, and aspirations that diversify our nation, Professor Umaharan emphasizes the futility of a "one-size-fits-all" approach. "Although T&T 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," asserts Professor Umaharan.

 Drawing attention to the staggering 50,000 hectares of abandoned cocoa lands across the country, Professor Umaharan called for government and institutions to embrace a nuanced perspective. 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. Symbolically, the Cocoa Research Centre (CRC), under the guidance of Professor Umaharan and his esteemed team, stands as a pillar of support, offering scientific and technological knowledge, certification, post-harvest support, chocolate-making expertise, breeding support, and disease screening.

 Professor Indar Ramnarine, Deputy Principal of The UWI St. Augustine Campus, underscored the significance of the CRC's multifaceted contributions, he articulated the need for a holistic approach that spans educational programmes, research, extension services, investments, and governmental policies. This transformative journey necessitates a collaborative partnership between the government, research and development institutions, and the private sector. It calls for a shared strategy, with investment flowing into the reconfiguration of farms into modern and prosperous business entities.

 “The research agenda for cocoa at the Ministry is developed with guidance and collaboration from the CRC, UWI to address major industry challenges,” said Mr. Amel Baksh, Acting Director of Research, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries. He delivered the feature address at the opening of the symposium on behalf of Senator the Honourable Kazim Hosein, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries. “Research projects are also financed through recurrent expenditure and the Public Sector Investment Programme through a project entitled Rehabilitation of The Cocoa Industry. The project seeks to provide innovative technologies which are geared towards increasing plant productivity and farmer income.” Mr Baksh expressed thanks to the CRC for organising the symposium to highlight research work in cocoa and sensitizing stakeholders and the public.

 The symposium also highlighted how the CRC aims to continue helping in the development and enablement of an investment environment while expanding branding strategies.  Participants learnt more about how the CRC is currently working on developing a range of breeding tools, breeding populations to support cocoa breeding all while developing novel products and services and opportunities for commercialisation. Sponsors for the event included Angostura Cocoa Bitters, Eximbank, National Flour Mills and ANSA McAL Ltd.

 Recently The UWI St Augustine Campus staged a symbolic foundation laying for The UWI Chocolate Factory at the International Fine Cocoa Innovation Centre (IFCIC) of the Cocoa Research Centre (CRC), at the University Field Station in Mount Hope. The chocolate factory is one of many innovative projects underway in 2023 as The UWI St. Augustine Campus joins its sister campuses around the region to celebrate The UWI’s 75th anniversary. The Diamond jubilee milestone themed “UWI at 75. Rooted. Ready. Rising.” features initiatives purposely designed and aligned to reflect on the past, confront the present, and articulate plans for the future of the regional University. 


 About The University of the West Indies

  The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region for the past 75 years.

 From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Monain Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hillin Barbados, Five IslandsinAntigua and Barbuda and itsOpen Campus, and global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

 The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

 The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean in the World University Rankings, it is also in the top 25 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

 2023 marks The UWI’s 75th anniversary. The Diamond jubilee milestone themed “UWI at 75. Rooted. Ready. Rising.” features initiatives purposely designed and aligned to reflect on the past, confront the present, and articulate plans for the future of the regional University.

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