The price of wet cocoa beans here has touched Rs. 40 a kg, an all-time high in recent years.
Some farmers point out that the price of wet beans was steady this monsoon. They hope that this trend will continue as it ensures a promising future for growers. The dampener, however, is that the rise in price has come almost at the end of the crop season.
Growers, who cultivate cocoa as an inter-crop in arecanut and coconut plantations, are just approaching the “off season”. The yield will be low till the end of summer. Cocoa yields are higher in monsoon, which is known as “crop season”.
A.S. Bhat, Executive Director of Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (CAMPCO), told The Hindu that the company had been procuring wet beans from growers for Rs. 40 a kg for the past 10 days. This was the highest price CAMPCO had paid growers. The price of wet beans was Rs. 36 a kg 10 days ago. He said that CAMPCO was procuring dry cocoa beans for Rs. 155 a kg, depending on the quality. The price of dry beans was between Rs. 142 and Rs. 145 a kg 10 days ago.
Mr. Bhat attributed the rise in price to a steady demand for the produce from domestic buyers. The companies, which imported dry cocoa beans, started procuring them locally as the price in the domestic market was on par with that of international market, he said.
As the process of drying cocoa beans needed a huge investment, a majority of the growers sold wet beans, Mr. Bhat said. He expressed the hope that the price would remain steady at Rs. 40 a kg till March.
Venkatachala Bhat, a cocoa grower at Kavu, said that Rs. 40 a kg was the highest price the growers were getting for wet beans. Vishwanath Bhat, a cocoa grower at Vadya near Kabaka, said that a private company was also paying Rs. 40 a kg of wet beans. He, however, contended that the increase in price during this time of the year would not help growers as the crop season was coming to an end.
Mr. Vishwanath Bhat said: “Now, growing cocoa appears to be lucrative than arecanut and coconut. The price of cocoa may not fall as in the case of vanilla as consumption of vanilla is limited compared to cocoa.”
K. Ramesh of Mani said that the price of wet cocoa beans remained steady this monsoon, unlike the previous years. Till last year, the price of wet cocoa beans peaked during summer and decreased during monsoon. This year, however, the price, which peaked during summer, did not come down, he added.
The price of wet beans was between Rs. 28 a kg and Rs. 33 a kg this summer. The price was Rs. 33 a kg till September. It subsequently touched Rs. 36 a kg and remained at Rs. 40 a kg, he said.