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Ecuador sets eyes on 3rd largest global cocoa producer target

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Latin America’s largest cocoa producer is currently aiming to become the world’s 3rd largest by 2019, according to delegates at this year’s Cocoa Summit in Guayaquil, Ecuador. 

Currently the 4th largest in the world after Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia, Ecuador could claim the 3rd spot by 2019, aiming at an output target of 320,000 tonnes. This year the country is set to produce around 290,000 tonnes of cocoa; 9% more than 2016, attendees, including the country’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, at the event attended by IEG Vu outlined. 

(Translation: "It is estimated that Ecuador will produce about 290 thousand metric tonness of cocoa this year, 9% more than 2016”)

Cocoa production in Ecuador has been steadily climbing for the last 10 years, owed to adoptions of different crop varieties. However, although climatic conditions led to a slowdown in 2016, this season the sector is set for a rebound.

“2017 begins to show levels of recovery of the crop with a projected possible new record of cocoa exports and production for the country,” said exporters association Anecacao.

In terms of exports, during the first 7 months of 2017, Ecuador exported 148,500 tonnes of cocoa; 23% more than during the same period in 2016 when they reached 120,800 tonnes. In July alone exports totaled 20,000 tonnes compared to 12,000 tonnes in the same month in 2016; a 60% increase.

Generation CCN-51

The 20 years leading up to 2000 brought in an era of stable production for Ecuador, of around 90,000 tonnes; now that figure has almost tripled. 

“2000 we saw a more stable economy due to the introduction of dollar as the official currency; as well as the full adoption of CCN-51 cocoa variety,” outlined Roberto Mollison of fine flavour cocoa association APROCAFA.

The continuing production growth for Ecuador’s cocoa crop and climb for the no.3 spot, is based on its increased plantings of the CCN-51 variety, currently at 3:1 ratio against the nacional crop variety.

What is CCN-51? 

Developed in the 1970s, Ecuador’s CCN-51 (Colección Castro Naranjal) is a high-yielding cocoa variety which did not become widely planted until 1997-98. An El Niño event wiped out a substantial amount of the country’s fine flavour nacional crop, prompting the switch. CCN-51 favours high productivity (four times more than fine flavour varieties) and is resistant to fungal diseases.

“CCN51 is easier to produce than nacional, it has better variations now, with more resistance to disease and improved flavour,” John Molina of Agroarriba told IEG Vu on the sidelines. “Plus (2nd spot) Indonesia is planting less cocoa with more of a shift on tech industries now, which us better for us!” he added.

Ecuador although leading producer of fine flavour cocoa, it accounts for just 5% of the global supply.

“We cannot compete (with Africa) in terms of numbers, we offer more of a niche product, so we focus on quality. Importers tend to Ecuadorian cocoa to supplement their other cocoa imports,” he said.



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