The Ivory Coast -- the world's third largest cocoa producer -- claims to have discovered an inexpensive method of storing raw cocoa in bulk, without deterioration to the crop.
The Ivory Coast -- the world's third largest cocoa producer -- claims to have discovered an inexpensive method of storing raw cocoa in bulk, without deterioration to the crop. Alternative methods proposed by other counties have envisaged large capital outlays on sophisticated air-conditioning plants.
At a recent press conference in Abidjan, Mr. Rene Amany, technical director of the country's marketing board for cocoa and other commodities, described the method. He later took newsmen to see a storage unit which is believed to be the first in the world in which cocoa has been stored under natural conditions for as long as 15 months.
The secret lies in the correct combination of concrete and fibreglass insulation, coupled with the size of the storage whit, which maintain the cocoa's humidity content at the viable level of 7.5 per cent. No air-conditioning or artificial ventilation is required -- the doors of the storage unit are merely opened for a certain period every day.
Ivory Coast plans to build between three and five of the units so it can stockpile about 25,000 tons of cocoa -- 10 per cent of the country's annual production -- in order to stabilise world prices. It will also share the secret, in a bid to persuade other producers to stockpile a similar proportion of their cocoa.
This would enable stockpiling of the 250,000 tons buffer stock provided for in the international cocoa agreement, which comes into force this year.
SYNOPSIS: On this cocoa plantation near Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, harvesting of the annual crop is in progress. As well as coping with natural threats to the cocoa bean, producers have long battled with the uncertainty of unstable prices for their product on the world market. The problem has hinged on the inability of growers to store raw cocoa in bulk, without it spoiling.
Removing the cocoa beans from their pods is a relatively simple job. However, plans for special cocoa storage units have, until now, involved the use of complicated and costly equipment. After being dried on tables, cocoa been that are to be stored must have their humidity level kept at about 7.5 per cent.
The Ivory Coast -- the World's third largest cocoa producer -- claims it has come up with a cheap solution to the problem. Cocoa was stored successfully in a special unit for 15 months on a plantation near Abidjan under conditions not unlike a conventional shed.
The secret of this unit is a correct combination of concrete and fibreglass insulation. Ventilation is obtained by opening the doors for certain periods. The Ivory Coast plans to build up to five of the units and to share the secret with other countries. In this way, it's hoped enough cocoa can be stockpiled to stabilise prices.