The 40 participants will end their one and half training today at the Maranatha Hall, East Honiara with a competition.
Dr Nat Bletter, Chocolate Flavor meister of Madre Chocolate and is business partner David Elliott also a chocolate maker are conducting the training.
Dr Nat said, throughout the training the participants are so keen to learn about how to produce chocolate bar, hot chocolate, chocolate ngali nut spread like Nutella, produce their own chocolate using simple tools like a mortar & pestle stone bowl, meat or kava grinders, or a food processor.
He said, this is the first time that most of the participants have tasted what they call ‘pure chocolate and chocolate made from Solomons cocoa.
“For some it was the first time they had ever tasted chocolate. We also made the first chocolate in Solomons with the farmers participating in the chocolate making.
“We also emphasize that every cocoa farmer and farmers market has to taste cocoa and chocolate every day to really learn what it should taste like.”
He said, its possible to produce chocolate in Solomon Islands given the right infrastructure and facility.
He pointed out, with the training the cocoa farmers can now process their own chocolate because they know the production process, taste the different varieties of chocolate and mostly importantly cocoa farmers can to better understand what chocolate manufacturers are expecting from them and their beans.
He said, so often many cocoa farmers produce cocoa beans without tasting the end product.
“So its important for both cocoa growers and chocolate manufacturers to have a better level of understanding in the chocolate production and be able to speak each other's languages.”
During the training a professional grinding machine was used to grind up the dried beans before heating.
He said, such grinding machine costs around SBD$3000.00 and any one can produce their own chocolate.
Dr Nat believes with the knowledge and skills gained from the training these cocoa growers can do something with the cocoa beans by generating an income from chocolate production.
Madre Chocolate based in Hawaii has been collecting cocoa beans from Hawaii, South and Central America to produce chocolates for sales in Australia, Japan, Europe, Hawaii and the States.
And now Dr Nat said, he will be working closely with some of the local cocoa farmers to ship a tonne of cocoa beans to Hawaii so that it can be produced into chocolates and gets promoted during the upcoming Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, Washington, United States.
An information technology officer who got the opportunity to taste a sample of the ‘pure chocolate’ produced by the farmers early this week commended the initiative to train the farmers.
He said, given the possibility of producing chocolate here, farmers and communities should now be supported by their Member of Parliaments (MP) in their respective constituencies to undergo such trainings so that it can encouraged them to grow cocoa and produce their own chocolate for income and consumption.
“This is a good initiative for Solomon Islands which has a lot of small holder cocoa farmers. By doing this it would encourage cocoa farmers to work hard, grow more cocoa and produce their own chocolate bars, hot chocolates and chocolate banana,” he said.
The officer added, there is a potential this industry will grow in the future therefore farmers should work with other stakeholders such as community groups, non-government organisations, the government authorities and their MPs to make such training available in their areas.
He acknowledged the two chocolate experts, ADRA, the Australian government and the SI NGO partnership agreement for this historic training which is a breakthrough for the local farmers knowing they can produce their own chocolate now.
By MOFFAT MAMU