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Colonial Cocoa Production

Volume 436: debated on Monday 28 April 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in view of the fast that the estimated supplies of cocoa, 500,000 tons, are 300,000 tons short of the estimated world consumption, and that swollen shoot disease of cocoa, for which there is not yet a known cure, is devastating the cocoa plantations in the Gold Coast and Nigeria, the chief sources of the supply of cocoa, and that it takes eight years to develop cocoa plantations, what is being done to develop cocoa in other British Colonies.

The future of cocoa supplies was considered by the Colonial Advisory Committee on Agriculture and Animal Health in December, 1941, and on their recommendation a despatch was addressed to the Governors of several Colonies where cocoa production appeared feasible, to draw their attention to the prospective shortage of supplies and to discover how far production could be increased. As a result of this review it appeared that there were possibilities in some of the smaller Colonies. These are being pursued. The largest area of potential new production, however, was in the Far Eastern territories. The war prevented immediate progress there but I have recently suggested to the Governments concerned that an expert investi- gation should be undertaken as soon as possible.Apart from new production, the best means of maintaining or increasing Empire production lies in the control of disease, improvements in cultural methods, a more intensive system of production and the replacement of inferior types of tree by selected high yielding strains. Grants have been made for the latter purpose in Grenada. But the programme as a whole involves continuing research. In 1945 therefore a Cocoa Research Conference was held in London which reviewed the whole field of research needed by the industry. In accordance with the conclusions of that Conference a co-ordinated programme of research in the West Indies and West Africa has been worked out and is being intensively pursued. Measures for the control of swollen-shoot disease, occupy I prominent place in the programme of West African research and in the operations of the Agricultural Departments of the Colonies concerned.