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Cacao Fiji’s Market Access For All Cocoa Farmers

Cacao Fiji Limited is embarking on an ambitious plan to buy cocoa beans from all cocoa farmers in Fiji. Company director and founder Arif Khan said this was the ultimate
25 Mar 2017 10:00
Cacao Fiji’s Market Access For All Cocoa Farmers
Cacao Fiji Limited director and founder Arif Khan (middle) with the farmers during a training in Dreketi. Photo:SUPPLIED

Cacao Fiji Limited is embarking on an ambitious plan to buy cocoa beans from all cocoa farmers in Fiji.

Company director and founder Arif Khan said this was the ultimate in terms of cocoa revival since the demise of the industry due to a collapse in the market partly contributed by the coups  of 1987.

He said with a progressive Government, economy and market access for all cocoa farmers, the cocoa industry is taking steps towards a revival.

“At present we are working in the vicinity of 30 to 40 farmers in Macuata and Bua,” Mr Khan said.

“Through our outreach, we have additional 20 farmers who have started pruning.

We have tried to hold meetings with areas in Savusavu but there seems to be a lack of interest in cocoa farming based past experiences of lack of market.

It is our target to have at least a100 farmers in the North by next year engaged in cocoa farming.”

“There have been a lot of talanoa sessions and meetings with farmers to educate them on the Cacao Fiji process,” he revealed.

“The cocoa industry is very competitive and must export the highest quality.

Further, we encourage organic cocoa farming and encourage the Department of Trade and Ministry of Primary Industries are making inroads in organic certification.”

 

What kind of variety of bean is collected?

Mr Khan said the dominating variety in Fiji and the variety collected is Forestero Amelonado that is generally referred to as bulk cacao.

“Fine cacao varietal is Trinitario which generally preferred to make fine chocolate,” he explained.

“At present, we are appealing to farmers that we are willing to buy seeds from all famers that are logistically feasible.

We understand that there is cocoa in the some islands and we would like to hear from them but at present we are focusing on Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.

Hopefully, in future with logistic subsidy, we may assist a revival in the islands.”

“Our model emphasis the farmer to focus on maintaining and increasing their cocoa yield,” he said.

“After we collect the beans, the beans are transported to a central processing site for fermentation and drying under watchful eyes for quality control.”

 

Farmers Benefit

The company values farmers and their effort.

The biggest benefit that they are part of is the continuous market access.

“While there has been a lot of emphasis place on rehabilitation, there has not been enough on market access,” Mr Khan said.

“At the end of the day, the cocoa farmer has to be incentivized.

CFL is here to provide market access to all cocoa farmers.

We have worked hard to create a demand that will sustain the Fiji cocoa industry.

While we are focused on exporting, our biggest challenge is that there is not enough supply of cocoa beans.

We hope that this publication will help create more awareness with the cocoa farmers.”

 

Challenges

There are many challenges says Mr Khan.

“Fiji needs more technical officers specialising in cocoa farming,” he said.

“This will assist the farmers in overcoming challenges of black pods.

Over the past three months, we have lost well over 20,000 cocoa pods to the black pod disease due to the continuous rain.

There are ways to minimise the disease but we need more MPI officers assisting the farmers.”

“As for future outlook we are focused on increasing exports and assisting the revival to the cocoa industry,” he said.

“Our plans are to start operations in Viti Levu this year and continue to work closely with farmers.

“The farmers need to know that Cacao Fiji is here to work with them and help with market access.” EDITED BY: IVAMERE NATARO



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