A top official of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has urged the scientists to focus on promoting suitable cocoa varieties and production technologies to bring down its import to the country.
Speaking at the 105th Foundation Day celebration of the Kasaragod-based Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), through a virtual platform, AK Singh, Deputy Director General (Horticulture Science) of ICAR, said, India imports a large quantity of cocoa beans and powder to bridge the gap between supply and demand in the domestic market. Referring to the data of International Cocoa Organisation, he said the prices increased around 20 per cent year on year basis.
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Stating that the Indian cocoa production was around 25,000 tonnes in 2019-20, up by 7.5 per cent over the previous year, he said the requirement is higher by more than three times. Considering the increase in the number of chocolate factories in the country, there is a need for the country to focus on import substitution of cocoa with expanding the cultivation in India.
Terming Andhra Pradesh and Kerala as the main producers of cocoa in the country, he urged the scientists to focus on promoting better varieties and production technologies and take them to farmers. These factors should help bring down the import of cocoa and help India becoming self-reliant in cocoa production, he said.
Urging the scientists to look from the global perspective point of view, Singh said the country’s cocoa production to the global production is very small.
Of the total cocoa produced in the world, more than 75 per cent is produced in the African countries, and more than 18 per cent in the Americas – both south and a small portion in North America. Stating that Asia’s contribution is hardly 5.5 per cent, he said India’s contribution to the global production is very low.
He said the increase in the prices of vegetable fats is a major concern for chocolate industry in the country, as they use vegetable fats as a substitute for the costlier cocoa fat. “In such a situation, scientist can help develop technologies and connect with the cocoa farmers so that the cost of cocoa production goes down. This will also do away with the vegetable fat as a substitute for cocoa in the chocolate industry,” he added.
Anitha Karun, Director of CPCRI, welcomed the gathering.