Can the Solomons get a bite of the gloabl chocolate bar?
It is one of the world’s most loved treats – and a valuable one at that.
And now local Solomon Islander farmers are now trying to get a bigger piece of the pie – or chocolate bar as it may be.
The week-long Solomon Islands chocolate week concluded today at the National auditorium with hundreds of local farmers, government officials, local business and foreign investors attending the closing ceremony.
The key highlight of the day was the handing over of awards to the top 10 cocoa samples tested by judges during the week-long event.
96 samples were received prior to the event, of which 10 were selected from farmers across the country.
Now in its second year, the event is organised by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in partnership with the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA), the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Program (PHAMA), Rural Develoment Program (RDP), Commodity Export Marketing Authority (CEMA), and the Ministry of Agriculture, and Livestock.
Speaking during the ceremony, the permanent secretary of the ministry of Agriculture and livestock Jimmy Saelea said to be competitive at the global market, local cocoa farmers needed to ensure their products were of good quality.
He said accessing high end markets would be a challenge if local farmers continued to produce smoke tainted cocoa beans.
“The cocoa industry offers a great opportunity to improve employment opportunities, but to improve it, we must improve our production practices,” Mr Saelea said.
“I urge all farmers to keep producing the quality product that is demanded by the overseas market.”
Mr Saelea also said that the cocoa industry in the country had a bright future, and that the country must strive to increase cocoa production from the current 6000 metric tonnes annual production.