Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 7th 2015 Contents SHEREEN ALI
Anew cocoa economy may be on
the horizon, as people from farm-
ers to researchers start to explore
the possibilities of local cocoa,
and seek to revitalise and diversify T&T s
cocoa industry and cocoa-related livelihoods.
These ideas were evident at the recent World
Cocoa and Chocolate Day event at UWI, St
Augustine, held on October 1, where hundreds
of visitors not only tasted delicious local choco-
late and cocoa-infused treats, but also got a
chance to learn about the valuable work of
the Cocoa Research Centre and its exciting
plans to build a Cocoa Innovation Centre in
Visitors to the increasingly popular event
also encountered a variety of ways to earn a
livelihood from cocoa, whether as a farmer,
a creator of unique food products such as a
chocolatier, a manufacturer of soaps and cos-
metics, or as an owner or worker in an agro-
Bishop Victor Phillip is a cocoa entrepreneur
who is one of several people interested in the
agrotourism side of cocoa. Others already in
this business who participated in the World
Cocoa and Chocolate Day included Ortinola
Estate of Maracas Valley, St Joseph, and Mari-
posa Gardens of Lopinot.
Bishop Victor Phillip spoke to the T&T
Guardian about his business idea. Phillip is a
businessman, farmer and estate owner who
wants to revitalise cocoa production in Moruga.
A man with varied experience in construction
and garment manufacturing enterprises, he
became seduced by cocoa from as far back as
the 1980s when he studied cocoa production
at farm school in Centeno.
He said he d been through a four-year train-
ing programme at the former Management
Development Centre (MDC). The MDC was
founded in the 1970s and funded by the World
Bank to provide business management training;
it no longer exists.
"After your training, you could go to IDC
and get funding.... So I did, and I set up a
garment factory, and supplied Kirpalanis, and
Stephen & Johnsons, and exported to Venezuela
and Barbados....I also worked in a construction
firm, and in agriculture. I was a product of
the old school of training entrepreneurs," he
Phillip later bought a ten-acre cocoa estate.
He is proud of the large size of the pods on
his cocoa trees. Phillip s vision is to fuse indige-
nous cocoa products with cocoa estate eco-
tourism. His business brand is Hills of Rock
River: Moruga s Finest Cocoa.
He plans to both grow cocoa and make
cocoa products, while also offering "tourism
from the fields" from his estate, where visitors
can vacation in comfort while they gain first-
hand experience of a cocoa farm, with tours,
talks and involvement in some aspects of pro-
Phillip s business plan involves pruning
existing older cocoa trees and replanting Trini-
tario TSH selected hybrids (clones from crosses
between Amazonian, Forastero and Trinitario
cocoa varieties). The TSH hybrids, he said,
produce higher yields and are more disease
The only thing currently holding the project
back, said Phillip, is lack of good access roads
Previously, Phillip said, National Petroleum
had maintained the area s roads, but this
stopped when they capped their wells there.
Phillips told the Guardian he was hoping Gov-
ernment would help to provide this necessary
infrastructure in the area, and observed there
were at least 15 other Moruga farmers who,
along with him, suffered from the lack of
access roads, which has helped spur aban-
donment of most of the old cocoa farms in
Moruga in the past ten years.
"Once I have access roads, I am ready for
the project, and for production," said Phillip.
"You have to actually encourage the cocoa
farmers to come back. It s only when they see
someone doing something that is making
sense, that they will come back," he said.
"Open up the roads, we ll start production,
and agriculture will start back in Moruga."
Cocoa Research Centre plans
new Cocoa Innovation Centre
At the heart of last week s cocoa and choco-
late expo was the UWI Cocoa Research Centre,
which launched the event four years ago and
has been organising it ever since. Visitors got
the opportunity to learn about the work of
the centre through several infographic displays
and an interesting scale model of projected
The UWI Cocoa Research Centre does
research in cacao pathology (diseases) and
molecular diagnostics, and also supports cocoa
entrepreneurs through training, estate reha-
bilitation, flavour profiling, agro-technology
and other help. It runs some very popular
chocolate-making courses every other month,
which are often sold out and require advance
booking. And there are exciting plans for a
state-of-the-art Cocoa Innovation Centre to
soon be built on land at Mount Hope.
The Cocoa Research Centre also manages
the International Cocoa Genebank, Trinidad,
which is one of the world s most diverse col-
lections of cacao germplasm. It is a centre of
excellence with more than 2,000 varieties of
cocoa. Designated a Universal Collection by
Bioversity International, the actual Genebank
consists of cocoa trees growing on a 100-acre
site which was originally part of the La Reunion
Estate at Centeno/La Chaguaramas, about 5
km from Piarco Airport.
T&T Guardian spoke to Romina Umaharan,
a pathologist at the Cocoa Research Centre,
who s been working there since 1995.
Microsoft has launched a laptop dubbed the
Surface Book, as part of a suite of new Win-
dows 10 products.
It also showed off two new smartphones, an
updated Surface tablet and a new fitness band.
Much is riding on the launches as chief exec-
utive Satya Nadella sets out to prove Microsoft
can compete with its rivals.
Analysts said the new laptop may help re-
vive the ailing PC market.
The laptop, Microsoft's first, was the high-
light of a tranche of new products shown off at
an event in New York.
It is designed to take on Apple's Macbook,
with Microsoft directly comparing the prod-
It said that, just as its Surface tablet was a
hybrid between a tablet and a laptop, so the
Surface Book would "reinvent categories."
Analysts seemed impressed.
"It is a highly innovative, flagship device that
will act as a much-needed halo product for
Windows 10 and the broader PC market and
proves that innovation in personal computing
is not just confined to Apple's Cupertino cam-
pus," said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
Microsoft launches new Windows laptop
From cocoa ecotourism to regional research
Cocoa and chocolate
are burgeoning areas of
the agricultural sector.
Continued on Page A29
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