Entry: Robert Peck, World Cocoa Foundation
A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Rodolfo Paiz Andrade from the Presidential Commission for Local Development in Guatemala, visited us in the office. It was a very pleasant visit triggered by his interest in learning more about cocoa in other origins and the potential for his country to have a future role in the global market. Currently Guatemala produces an estimated 1,000 tons of cocoa per year; farmers are facing a difficult with monilia which has reduced their production by more than half of their potential. The visit was then followed by a short interview for a program where the authorities in Guatemala are trying to make a case for cocoa, a crop that has been traditionally grown in the country since pre-Columbian times. Our key message during the visit and the interview is that indeed we do think that Guatemala, as well as other countries in Latin America, can have a role in the international market but that it ought to be in producing good quality cocoa. Cocoa is and will continue to be another important source of income for farmers but one should not expect that any of these countries can compete with volumes produced by countries in West Africa or even in Southeast Asia. Countries in this region of the world produce cocoa with fine flavor characteristics, which indeed does have a favorable outlook under current demand for single origin and in dark chocolate products.