Farmers smile as cocoa prices touch Rs 40/kg

Cocoa was fetching Rs 30 six months ago

It was just six months back, Rs 30 was offered to one kg of wet cocoa beans, which was considered the highest by then. Now, the cocoa market has surged again. The Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Co-operative Ltd (Campco) has started offering Rs 40 per kg in Karnataka, and more than Rs 45 in Kerala.

A sudden increasee in cocoa prices in the international market is said to be the main reason for this elation in the indigenous scenario.

In fact, this is for the first time in its 36-year history, the Campco has offered this “thrilling” rate for cocoa.

“There is a great demand for cocoa both at the national and the global level. Compared to the world, India’s production of cocoa is very low (0.03 per cent).
The country has to import major part of its cocoa requirement from foreign countries. The price of cocoa has surged in the international market, and the indigenous market too has got pushed up,” said Campco Executive Director A S Bhat, speaking to Deccan Herald.

On the one hand, the demand for cocoa has been increasing due to the speedy growth of chocolate industry, and on the other, the production of cocoa has been fluctuating due to various reasons.

The global cocoa production was 3.8 metric tonnes in 1997-98 which declined to 3.6 mt in 2003.

However, it managed to reach 4 mt in 2007 (International Cocoa Organisation). India was producing around 12,402 tonnes in 1998-99 which declined to 10,560 tonnes in 2007-08.

Bhat said India has an estimated demand of 30,000 tonnes of dry cocoa beans per year and hence, it is importing the additional quantity from foreign countries.
Farmers are excited due to the sudden increase in the cocoa price, but many regret that they moved away from cocoa years back without knowing its future.

“It is good that farmers are getting a good price, but the point is that this trend should be stable. It should not experience the fate of areca or pepper,” Bhat said.
Areca growers had a great time when one kg of areca was sold at Rs 200 in 1999, but their dreams got shattered when the price collapsed to Rs 45 in 2001. Even the rate of pepper had reached Rs 300 once, but the existing rate is just Rs 140 or so. However, Bhat said the growers need not worry as on now.

“Even if one kg of cocoa gets Rs 25, it is a good price since it requires minimum labour compared to other crops. Campco’s chocolate production has increased drastically in the recent years and hence it has a huge requirement of cocoa. There are also expansion plans for the chocolate factory at Puttur,” he added.

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