A new scientific research project has the potential to boost the livelihoods of Solomon Islands cocoa farmers.
The project, a partnership between the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, will strengthen the cocoa value chain and address specific needs in the market.
Approximately 13,000 households in the country are engaged in the cocoa industry either as farmers, shippers, agents and exporters.
Acting Australian High Commissioner Dr Jasmine Cernovs was pleased to sign off on the project alongside Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Jimi Saelea Friday.
The research is supported by a SBD$700,000 grant from the Australian Government, via ACIAR.
“This exciting work will assist Solomon Islands cocoa farmers evaluate and share the best bean varieties, boost crop yields, and improve fermentation and drying practices,” acting Australian High Commissioner Cernovs said.
“Sales of dried and fermented cocoa beans represent over SBD100million of export income to Solomon Islands every year.”
“By partnering with Australian scientists, staff at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock will also have access to new techniques and skills development,” Cernovs said.
“Given the rich, unique soils of Solomon Islands, there is a strong demand for the country’s high quality cocoa beans from niche chocolate manufacturers around world.”
“This project will build on previous successes in Solomon Islands cocoa industry as well as important lessons from other Pacific nations with the aim to take this valuable export industry to the next level.”
Source: Solomon Star