>> For the past seven years, Freddie Patron's cocoa harvest has been under threat by theft.>> I used to have 13 workers here, but since the cocoa theft began, I couldn't keep them because the farm doesn't produce what it used to.>> Cocoa theft has become a big problem in the
shakedowns have unnerved those in the cocoa trade, who fear the Venezuelan government could nationalize their industry, which brings in $20 million in exports a year.
For this, correspondence Luke Owen is in the region.>> Basically what happens is that thieves come onto the farm and cut down the cocoa beans, basically before they're ready to be harvested. And then sell them, and that results in a lower price for all the producers because that reduces the quality.
>> This has forced many growers to abandon the flavor enhancing practice of laying their harvested beans out to dry and ferment, causing the quality to suffer and buyers to go elsewhere. So with the sector in turmoil, Hector Rodriguez, the governor of
He has established a state run cocoa plant, where farmers could sell their beans and the states could then export them.>> She said, the idea was to combat insecurity and debts of cocoa. But many in the sector said it's drove the cocoa sector into chaos.>> Freddie Golindo is the cocoa trader in Milanda state.
He says that recently, trucks filled with beans were stopped by soldiers who then forced the drivers to unload some of it's cargo, at governments warehouses. He claimed that when the trucks were released $130,000 worth of the cocoa was missing. In an interview with Reuters, Governor Rodriguez acknowledged why these checks would be difficult on producers like Galindo, but said it was necessary and that initially misunderstandings have been worked out.
> Our objective is to dismantle the gangs of cocoa thieves. And while we were talking to the cocoa producers, they realized we're speaking the truth, and a lot of it is just about building trust.>> The