EFFORTS UNDERWAY TO IMPROVE COCOA INDUSTRY

Cocoa pods ready for harvest. Photo credit: New Mail.

Cocoa pods ready for harvest. Photo credit: New Mail.

Efforts are underway to improve the cocoa industry’s knowledge of how the international cocoa market works, and to raise awareness on ways to potentially improve export returns for Solomon Islands cocoa.

A statement from the Pacific Horticultural and Market Access Program said cocoa industry stakeholders met this month to hear the findings of a study conducted by an international cocoa market expert looking at the structure of Solomon Islands cocoa exports and opportunities to improve returns.

It said the study highlighted that there maybe an opportunity to improve returns by better access to trade finance, secured against contracts signed with overseas buyers.

The study also highlighted that the industry will need to make significant improvements in quality before Solomon Islands can be able to secure higher value markets for its cocoa.

Contamination of beans with smoke during the drying process was noted as the most significant quality issue.

Staff from the Commodities Export Marketing Authority, CEMA, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock participated in the workshop.

Meanwhile, the study found that other areas for improvement includes the capacity of CEMA to source and share with producers and exporters, market information on pricing and quality requirements.

The group identified the priorities for action as improving access to trade finance facilities, addressing quality issues, improving market information availability, establishing a strong representative body for the industry, and supporting marketing activities to build direct relationships with new customers and markets.

The study was funded via the Australian Government funded Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program, PHAMA, as part of its work to improve exports for Solomon Islands products.

CEMA General Manager Alfred Ramoagalo said the study has been very helpful in clarifying what the reality of Solomon Islands cocoa position in the market is and the market factors that are affecting export returns.

He adds, CEMA looks forward to working with the industry to progress improvements in market information and quality.

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