Dear Editor – At a time when the DCC Government is seeking to encourage foreign investors to the country and broad based development plans are in the pipe line, I find adequate news on the local cocoa industry missing.
It was in 2012 when there was a prediction that the Solomon Island’s cocoa exports would provide farmers with an alternative source of income to round log exports.
The European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project was reported to have engaged with a cocoa exporting company in Honiara to support communities and provide an alternative source of livelihood.
It is my understanding that the FACT project was to be managed within the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community with the goal of increasing agricultural and forestry trade within the region and exports from it by ensuring a constant and quality supply.
Another bit of news surfaced but then disappeared and left me and perhaps others; too, asking what is the state of the cocoa industry in the Solomon Islands?
The news I refer to read:
“Cocoa industry stakeholders met this month to hear the findings of a study conducted by an international cocoa market expert looking at the structure of Solomon Islands cocoa exports and opportunities to improve returns. Staff from the Commodity Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock also participated.”
The study was funded via the Australian government funded Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA) as part of its work to improve exports for Solomon Islands products.
It is my understanding that PHAMA is an Australian Government-funded initiative that provides practical and targeted assistance to support Pacific Island Countries to gain access for new products into new markets, and maintain and improve existing trade by helping them manage the regulatory aspects of exporting primary products.
If I was a potential investor needing information on the current state of the cocoa industry in the Solomon Islands I would be disappointed not be have comprehensive information available on such a viable commodity and perhaps my writing might encourage more encompassing information of cocoa and all the other commodities Solomon Islands has to offer in the form of a trade export manifesto.