India plans to increase cocoa production by 60% in next four years to meet the rising demand from the 15-billion-rupee chocolate industry and to cut dependency on costlier imports.
Chocolate consumption is gaining popularity in the country on increasing prosperity coupled with a shift in food habits, pushing up the country’s cocoa imports.
Production of cocoa would increase to 16,000 tonnes in 2011/12. Farmers are being encouraged for cocoa cultivation.
Majority of Indian farmers cultivate cocoa as an intercrop in coconut and areca nut gardens. The total area under cultivation was 32,360 hectares in 2006/07.
India’s annual cocoa demand is pegged around 18,000 tonnes during the current year, which would necessitate import of around 45% of its total requirement, officials said.
In 2007/08, import of cocoa beans and cocoa products is estimated to jump four fold to 8,000 tonnes from 2,027 tonnes in 2000/2001. Industry players say there is huge scope for expanding acreage considering rising demand and firm global prices.
US cocoa futures hit a 24-year high on 14 February on fund buying. Soft commodity prices have seen waves of support from funds looking for fresh investment avenues, with agricultural commodities tipped as a good bet for 2008.
To secure good quality raw material in the long term, private players like Cadbury India, Jindal Cocoa, Amul, Campco are encouraging cocoa cultivation
Cocoa requirement is growing around 15% annually and will reach about 30,000 tonnes in the next 5 years.