Cocoa produce expected to be higher this year

Written by RajeshRavi | Kochi | Updated: Jun 21 2012, 02:07am hrs
Domestic cocoa production during the current year is likely to be on the higher side against the previous years 12,900 tonne, officials at Kochi-based Directorate of Cashew and Cocoa Development (DACCD) said.

Last year, production was lower than the initial estimate as only Andhra Pradesh showed an increase in production while other states saw a decline due to erratic weather, Venkatesh N Hubbali, director of DACCD told FE.

At present, 68,000 hectares are under the commodity in India with 16,000 hectares in Andhra Pradesh, followed by Kerala with 11,000 hectares. Venaktesh said last year the yield from the new crop area in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu helped in compensating the loss suffered from Kerala. Last year, heavy rains in the crop area interrupted flowering and pollination. The setting was not very encouraging and the yield suffered, he said.

Indian imports half of its requirement of cocoa every year with demand for cocoa increasing at a healthy rate of 8% every year. The Indian chocolate market is thought to be worth R15 billion and has been hailed as offering great potential for Western chocolate units as the market is still in its early stages.

Meanwhile, the domestic cocoa market has been on the decline with global demand estimated to come down due to problems in most of the developed economies. Cocoa futures in London and New York have fallen since mid-May on concerns about the world economy.

Indian cocoa prices are under pressure due to lower consumption by major chocolate manufacturers. It is reported that major cocoa producers have good crop, Shiny George of the Indian Organic Farmers Company told FE.

Average price for dry cocoa beans have come down to R130-135 per kg in the Idukki district. Cocoa prices had touched a high of R210 per kg (dried beans) during March 2011, she said. Shiny feels lower price would help in higher exports.

Indian farmers had a disappointing start with cocoa in the 1980's. However, DACCD officials said this time cocoa is being promoted more as an inter-crop to coconut and areca nut to spread the risk. According to DACCD sources, Indian cocoa production is likely to cross 17,000 tonne in five years from present 12,000 tonne. DACCD has plans to bring another 75,000 hectare under cocoa cultivation in the next five years.