Venezualan expropriation of small Cocoa Farms

El Gobierno calcula que la cosecha de cacao aumentará en los próximos años, pero las cifras de los productores contradicen los deseos oficiales.

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The government estimates that the harvest of cocoa will increase in coming years, but the numbers of producers contradict the official desires. The new plan socialist plan to collect 27,286 tons in 2011, 30,213 in 2012 and 34,291 tons in 2013. However, the Venezuelan Cocoa planting believes that ending in September will produce only 15,000 tons, due to the rains.

The National Association of Venezuelan Cacao Producers expressed concern about the possibility that the government does not meet the objectives. “The goals unfulfilled, as to increase production, make it impossible to become a cocoa power as indicated by our President,” he says. The numbers of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands reflect a fall: between 2008-2009, 20,453 tons harvested last year and 18,000 tonnes.

In October 2010, President Hugo Chávez announced Sunday one of its programs that would declare the Venezuelan cacao as a national strategic product.
It also appeared the possibility of nationalizing the industry.

“We’re talking about a strategic product for the domestic and international economic policy our new,” he said. “Therefore, the cocoa producers and processors must reach an agreement with the Government”. In mid-April this year signed the decree and the authorities presented the socialist plan for cocoa, which provides that the Executive shall issue the rules governing the production, exchange, distribution, marketing, storage, import, export and agricultural services related field. However, until now the main actors, producers and processors have not been incorporated into the project.

The association and the Chamber have asked to be incorporated into the government program. “There is a plan, an intention, but we have not yet a link that allows the private sector to work in coordination with producers and the government to increase production for the benefit of all,” says Alejandro Prósperi, director of the chamber.

With a production of 250 kilos per hectare, Venezuela has one of the world’s lowest levels. “They should be 600 or 700 kilograms per hectare,” he says. Considers that would elevate it to run several steps: technical assistance to producers, plantation rehabilitation, maintenance, replanting trees genetically good and setting a good price. “We could have an increase of 60% to 70% in a very short period of two years if you really had a profound collaboration of private and government,” he adds.
Producers demand consistent and stable policy to promote the cultivation of the plant and support to face stiff competition abroad.

“We are threatened by other countries from the point of view of quality. There has been a policy to increase the arable land or to improve cocoa varieties. We have to compete on quality rather than quantity, such as Africa,” said Vincent Power producer of cocoa Choroní fine. “We are taking advantage of countries like Ecuador, which has fine cocoa aroma that came from Venezuela and Colombia, which has long-term policies not only planting but also for improving the cultivation and encouragement to consumption”, he argues. The country registered 17,000 cocoa producers, with an average of 4 hectares of crops each, according to the camera. For several of them is essential to increase production in order to live from their work. Currently, the average price to the producer between 26 and 27 bolivars per kilo, while the premium varieties, such as those harvested from Chuao and Choroni in Aragua State, is listed on almost double. But even the cocoa in these regions make a profit.

“It’s almost a charity. I’ve been working 20 years and it still does not pay expenses. And that I have a cocoa has a higher price than other producers, such as Miranda. The labor force has risen sharply and production is very small. Nothing to support a family. So the farmer is the need to work on something else and neglects the plantation, “says Fountain.

In Chuao, producers work with a scheme similar to a cooperative and receive a weekly fee and salary, which comes to 900 Bolivares per month, according Alcides Herrera, president of the association of cocoa in the area. This amount can not afford to live, Edis added Liendo, who worked 34 years to cultivate cacao.
“We have to do other things, planted cassava, bananas and we have small business: sell ice cream, make arepas, etc.”.

Fears Because most crops are limited to a few hectares, the farm owners have not been affected by the expropriations. Prósperi recalls that during the first government of Carlos Andres Perez was an intervention in the sector, which led to the decline in cocoa production from 22,000 tonnes in 1975 to 10,500 tons in 1982. “Producers do not want to be nationalized, because the same thing happens with coffee: exporters importers we become.”

They also fear that the installation of a chocolate plant in Sucre forced the government to buy raw materials abroad. The factory will have capacity to process 25,000 tonnes of cocoa a year, which will add to the 30,000 tons of the industry. “How will the state do to process more cocoa produced in the country,” asks Prósperi. “Producers are against that amount because the prestige of Venezuela is its cocoa. Import from other areas of your image desmejoraría exporter of raw materials and finished products” claims.

In addition, cocoa are concerned about the possibility of having to subsidize the new plant, Prósperi points, as the authorities could buy cocoa at low prices for the factory to survive. “The producers would be to subsidize the plant when it should play a social role in improving the product.”
Although cocoa is produced in developing countries, processed and consumed mainly in industrialized countries. Half of Venezuelan cocoa is exported grain 90% said Prosperi.

The main destinations are Japan and Europe. However, the global market in recent years has seen some changes in the preferences of consumers, warns the International Cocoa Organisation. It has raised the demand for premium chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa, and some people are willing to pay $ 14 per 100 grams of fine chocolate made from cacao in Venezuela.

Vicente Fuente believes that the country could benefit more from this market and develop their own capabilities to produce high quality chocolate. “Venezuela can be because you have to do a top producer of fine chocolate,” he adds. “But it has a long road ahead that have already passed away.
You must seek and consult with those who know really fine chocolate, “he suggests.”

via VENEZUELA: La producción de cacao no se levanta – Economía – Entorno Inteligente.

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