Madecasse Urges Help for Madagascar Cocoa Growers to Lift Output

Madécasse, a Brooklyn-based chocolate manufacturer, urged Madagascar’s government to provide more information to cocoa farmers on how to grow the crop to help boost production.

Growers need to be assisted with setting up nurseries and shown how to process the crop to help produce “fine” cocoa, amid growing demand for “superior quality” beans, said Michael Chauveau, a program manager for the company. Cocoa-bean buyers are also purchasing the crop too early in order to secure a lower price, he said in an interview on June 20 in the capital, Antananarivo.

“Farmers can earn more if they produce superior quality beans” that result from longer fermentation and drying periods, he said. “Because of collectors’ practices, the International Cocoa Organization could take Madagascar off the list of superior producers.”

Cocoa production in Madagascar is forecast to be unchanged at 9,000 metric tons this year, according to the International Cocoa Organization. The Indian Ocean island nation is one of 17 countries that either exclusively or partially produces fine or flavor cocoa, which is recognized for its unique flavor and color, the London-based organization said on its website.

“We visited the northwestern Ambanja region where the beans are grown and the farmers have little production because their trees are old,” Chauveau said. “They are asking for help in establishing nurseries. They don’t need money, just information.”

Chocolate Exporter

Madécasse, which was started by two U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, exports most of the chocolate it manufactures in Madagascar to the U.S., according to Chauveau. He estimates that annual production in the country about 5,000 tons a year, 500 tons of which is bought by two chocolate factories on the island.

Increased demand for Madagascar’s cocoa has resulted in local prices of the beans rising about 30 percent this year to 2,000 ariary ($0.82) per kilogram, Chauveau said. Prices in London are up 11 percent this year.

“We started off four years ago exporting two pallets per quarter,” Chauveau said. “Now it’s two containers a month. Next month, we’re starting to use 40 foot containers.”

Cocoa for delivery in September climbed 0.5 percent to 1,920 pounds ($3,260) a ton on NYSE Liffe in London yesterday, advancing for the first time in three days.

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