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Cocoa Production Expected To Grow

Cocoa Production Expected To Grow
Ministry of Agriculture’s permanent secretary David Kolitagane at the Cocoa day cel¬ebration in Tailevu on May 17,2018. Photo: Ministry of Agriculture
May 21
11:25 2018

Cocoa Production is expected to grow in the next five years.

This was highlighted by the Min­istry of Agriculture’s permanent secretary David Kolitagane at the cocoa day celebration in Tailevu on Thursday.

“Cocoa production has slightly decreased in the recent years,” Mr Kolitagane said.

“In previous years according to certain plans put in motion, cocoa production had only reached 3,000 tonnes from 2010, from that decline in production during that period until last year.

“I am happy to note that cocoa production in 2017 had increased to 22,000 tonnes for the whole of Fiji.

“I am also grateful that in Tailevu province, cocoa production has greatly increased over the years and that is why in the revival of the celebration of cocoa.

“It was decided that celebrations be held here in Tailevu and I can say that Tailevu is a potential nerve center for cocoa, Fiji wide.

“I can also say that from the 22,000 tonnes produced last year, I am con­fident that in three to five years from now, we can double the pro­duction, this is just in terms of its planting and growth.

“You may question why I am so bold to state that because the up­ward trend in growth of cocoa pro­duction in seven years from 2010 had increased seven fold.”

He said this is based on its pro­duction side and this was further boosted through various govern­ment initiatives put in place, not just on the Cocoa Industry but also on other commodities that the Min­istry has focused its efforts on de­veloping further, as it is all in an ef­fort to encourage farmers to plant more for our markets.

“I am thankful that there are little and no issues towards the planting and nurturing of cocoa plantations, we have achieved the aim to increase cocoa production throughout the country.

“Secondly, I am confident that pro­duction in the next five years can be increased 10 times more.

“In terms of the financial side of things regarding cocoa, they have noticed that cocoa is one commod­ity that has very good returns for farmers.

“I know that for all farmers when discussing business, this is the bot­tom line of the discussion, what you will earn from all of this.

“I want to advise you from the ministry’s perspective, cocoa is one commodity from which you can earn a good living as you can earn double the amount of money if you take care of your farm and should you have any issues, ministry’s staff are always on hand to offer technical advice.

“I want to encourage farmers here in Tailevu and throughout Fiji to take up cocoa farming, its products are readily sold in towns and cities, from middlemen to exporters from $6-10 per kilo, and that is even more than other agricultural produce.

“Therefore cocoa can help to im­prove a farmer’s standard of living, his family and the whole village community if you concentrate on farming and identifying adequate suitable conditions for cocoa plan­tations.

“We know that improvements in production have been made over these past few years as production has increased five to seven times more within just seven years.

“And I know that we can improve this even more but it can only be achieved if we implement the plans put in place for the sector.”

The theme for this celebration is Let Us Revive Fiji’s Cocoa Industry.

“I can say that we do not only want to revive it, we also want to sustain it, we will not only improve the co­coa industry but we want to ensure that we gradually increase annual cocoa production in years ahead.

“There has been a lot of govern­ment assistance whereby farmers have been sent for overseas train­ing to build their capacity in pro­cessing cocoa from the plantation direct to the market in producing chocolate.

“I am also happy to state that cur­rently there are two companies processing cocoa into chocolate in the country and production of chocolate from cocoa is happening here in Fiji for our export markets, so we can clearly see here the link that exists between you the farm­ers, processors, exporters and our overseas export markets.”

Mr Kolitagane said there is a mar­ket for cocoa.

“The number of farmers supply­ing these processors has increased and I know that there are also other processors in the country who are contributing to the development of the cocoa sector.”

“There are cocoa cluster groups formed to improve cocoa farming and I am glad that there is a clear indication that through hard work, production of cocoa has increased.

“Yet,the biggest challenge that exists is our importing cocoa from overseas but we can also say that it offers a potential for us, because if we are to pay close attention to it, the Ministry and farmers can sub­stitute these imports being bought from abroad.”

“Since 2013, our import bill for co­coa related products was $7million, products that were in hotels and su­permarkets and in 2016 our cocoa import bill was $9million so this indicates that the demand for cocoa in Fiji exists, something the local industry is failing to meet and I am hoping that we can change this.”

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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