Cocoa was the first export product of Venezuela

Cocoa

For two centuries, this fruit was in our country the first product marketed abroad before coffee and oil. Chuao cocoa was trading very well on the Amsterdam market.

Starting in the XNUMXth century, cocoa became the main Venezuelan agricultural product for foreign trade, and the Dutch were the first to bring this fruit produced in our country to Europe.

cocoa from the Hacienda Chuao, the oldest still operating company in Venezuela, was highly valued in the Dutch capital.

While the Spanish exported it to Mexico, a country where the largest market for this item was, but soon this would change.

The commercialization of this product was taken over a little over a century later by the Guipuzcoan Company, a company whose objective was to take the monopoly of trade in the Province of Venezuela, especially cocoa as the main export product, and in which one of the shareholders was the King of Spain.

Cocoa
For two centuries, cocoa was Venezuela's main export item.

The most exported of the colonial era

Cocoa was in Venezuela the first product marketed abroad and almost the only one during the colonial period.

During the colony in our country, subsistence agriculture predominated, but cocoa had reached a growing importance for export, which began with the Dutch and was later taken by the Basques, supported by the Spanish Crown.

Its main buyer was Spain, but the wars in which this country participated, mainly with Great Britain, ended up hindering commercial exchanges.

This produced, in the mid-eighteenth century, the expansion and diversification of other agricultural products for export.

Due to its climate, soil and proximity to Europe, Venezuela was the country of the New World that occupied a privileged position to trade with Europe.

From 1810 to 1925, coffee was the country's main export product.

Coffee displaces cocoa in export

From the Independence of Venezuela from the Spanish Crown, after the first decade of the XNUMXth century, the bloody and long wars seriously affected the agricultural production of the country, and that of cocoa.

Many years later, as a result of these battles, by 1840, cocoa production was half of what was obtained in 1810. Also, coffee had already displaced this fruit as the first export product.

In 1844 the value of coffee represented 37% of the total exports of Venezuela, while that of cocoa was 21%. However, both remained the two main export items, representing between 50% and 70% of the value of the country's exports during the XNUMXth century.

By 1880, coffee and cocoa exports generated more than 75% of the foreign currency received in Venezuela, and these resources were used by the president Antonio Guzman Blanco to finance infrastructure works, mainly roads, in areas where these crops were grown.

The country's monoculture economy increased in the last twenty years of the 54,6th century, with coffee going from generating 74,2% of total exports in the 1890s to increasing to XNUMX% of the total. of them during XNUMX.

However, the drop in the price of coffee is beginning to affect its production. The price per kilo had gone from Bs.1.65 between 1889 and 1890, with a significant rise of Bs. 5.47 between 1894 and 1895, to begin to fall considerably between 1897 and 1898 to a value of Bs. 1.20, until reaching between 1902 and 1903 to Bs. 0.64.

The fall in coffee prices is accentuated from the year 1898 as a result of the overproduction of this item in Brazil, affecting the prices of world markets.

In addition to this, the high export taxes on coffee and cocoa imposed by the president Jose Cipriano Castro make it difficult for producers to compete in the international market.

Many indebted and inefficient Venezuelan coffee and cocoa farms were abandoned.

Since 1925 oil became the first export product of Venezuela.

Oil replaces coffee and cocoa falls

with the general Juan Vicente Gomez Export taxes on coffee and cocoa are eliminated, and this first item continues to be the basis of the Venezuelan economy until it was surpassed by oil in 1926.

As for cocoa, this continued to be the country's second most important agricultural product. In 1907, a total of 5.000 cocoa farms were counted in Venezuela.

The price of cocoa remained stable in the world market between 1913 and 1929. A 50-kilogram sack was sold for an average of Bs. 74, and only during the years 1931 and 1935 did it drop significantly.

By the end of Gómez's dictatorial period, cocoa represented only a small fraction of the country's total export.

  • This text was prepared with information from the book Politics and Economy in Venezuela 1810-1991 of the John Boulton Foundation

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