Dominica relaunches its cocoa sector to compete on global market
The Caribbean island has unique, fine-flavoured cocoa that has won prestigious recognition in product quality within the past decade and the initiative is being facilitated through workshops for stakeholders to improve the quality of their products.
Owners of abandoned cocoa lands have been invited by The Ministry of Agriculture to come on board and invest in their farms with the offer that services to increase selected value chains' productivity and export capacity will be available.
After the severe devastation to crops after Hurricane Maria in 2017, much of the country's ecosystem was destroyed. However, the island's resilience against climate change and determination to build back better have seen the Dominican economy thrive again.
Dr Reginald Thomas of the Ministry of the Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and National Food Security underlined the vital role that cocoa plays in the agricultural sector as it contributes to the livelihoods of Dominican farmers and helps build resilience.
"It's one of the true crops that can be placed in the production system, but importantly, cocoa has come from being an estate crop to an integrated crop, and as such, we see the importance of cocoa worldwide in terms of the market available, and it's agro-processed products," he said.
A sector that has greatly helped aid the island's agricultural recovery from Hurricane Maria is the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme. CBI confers second citizenship to those who invest in the nation's economy and is a route many take to attain greater travel mobility, business opportunities and a Plan B in times of crisis.
Main applicants who invest $100,000 in the government's Economic Diversification Fund can gain full citizenship of Dominica and the right to work, study and live in the country also known as the 'Nature Isle of the Caribbean'.
According to a 2019 report compiled by PWC, between 2014-15 to 2018-19, almost EC$30m ($500,000) was allotted from CBI funds to support agricultural and fishery sector projects.
"Most of the projects were aimed at increased food production and security, which targeted specifically banana, coffee and cocoa plantations. Farmers and fishermen's employment was also boosted through training programmes and economic support," the report said.