Global chocolate leader shops for Solomons’ cocoa


Globally renowned chocolate manufacturer Kraft-Cadbury is looking to source 10,000 tonnes of cocoa from the Solomon Islands. Kraft-Cadbury officials last month met with cocoa producers, stakeholders and the government to outline its plans for the region.<!--more-->

The global major cannot source enough cocoa and is looking for sources for around the world including the Pacific islands region. Though it is looking at buying 10,000 tonnes from the Solomon Islands, the country last year exported just about 5,000 tonnes last year.

Frank Wickham, the Agriculture Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, says the country has 30 million cocoa trees, but only a quarter of them are productive. However, with the help of new genetic material the nation could double output by 2020, he says.

Research Scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Dr. Alfred Arthur, warns that despite such interest it is important that the Solomon Islands do not venture into unproved agro-chemicals or genetic variations, stating that such practices could endanger the quality and standard of cocoa, says the Solomon Times.

He says the experience of Ghana, one of the World’s leading cocoa producer, shows that this could lead to a<a href=""><img class="alignright size-full wp-image-4800" alt="chocolate" src="" width="259" height="194" /></a>dverse outcomes. He says it is important to invest in research and ensure that such research informs whatever policy government decides to follow.

Most of today’s cocoa trees were planted around a decade ago as part of donor-funded projects to supplement farmers’ incomes and combat deforestation and there are concerns that with the ageing of the cocoa trees, quality could decline.