Indian cocoa growers have started cutting down their trees as the crop is no more fetching good prices though cocoa output in the country has been far lower than the demand, industry sources said Sunday.
Many cocoa growers in India's southern state of Kerala have begun cutting down trees and switch over to other crops such as mangosteen and rambutan. This is due to drop in prices this year despite decline in output due to unfavorable weather condition and black rot disease.
The total production of cocoa in India accounted for around 50 percent of the total requirement of over 30,000 tonnes of dried beans by about 10 processing and manufacturing units.
During 2011-12, total output stood at 12,900 tonnes from 63,015 hectares across south India against 14,436 tonnes from 56,515 hectares in 2010-11, official sources said. Cocoa is mainly grown in southern part of the country.
The balance requirement is met by imports for long, they said. Prices in the international markets were above the Indian prices last year due to demand-supply mismatch.
But, now the situation has changed and world market prices for dried beans are at par with the domestic prices now.
However, growers lamented that the prices they were getting stood at around 30 rupees (54 U.S. cents) per kg for wet beans and 125 rupees (2.27 U.S. dollars) per kg for dried beans and that was not remunerative. They believe that imports of the commodity were the reason for the drop in prices.
Josua Danie, a cocoa grower who cut his trees and switched to mangosteen, felt it was a lucrative crop with high return though it would take seven years to start yielding.
An executive of Cadbury India, one of the leading chocolate manufacturers in India, said quality of the domestic beans had been inferior due to mixing of good ones with poor ones.