Solomon Islands gears up for cocoa boom
The Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock plans to double the current levels of cocoa output by 2014, and to triple by 2017 in a bid to meet the growing global demand for cocoa.<!--more-->
After logging and palm oil, cocoa is Solomon Islands’ third biggest commodities export netting the nation some S$120-130million a year. Cocoa industry experts believe the country has vast untapped potential in the sector and efforts so far have barely scratched the surface.
Cocoa is turning out to be a major income earner for rural growers and communities. Of income generated from the 6000 tonnes exported last year, more than 70 percent went straight to rural populations, it has been estimated. Data indicate the activity supports up to 20,000 families across the country.
The future of cocoa lies with improving the quality of the cocoa trees and the processed beans throughout out the country, so that farmers can get good prices for their cocoa, says the ministry. But industry sources say this requires significant commitment from the government and stakeholders.
Meanwhile the ministry’s research division is also working with the quarantine department to bring in cocoa plants from overseas with a view to improve local variety.
These measures are expected to boost cocoa exports from the present 6000 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes by 2017.