A United States (US) based chocolate manufacturer Madre Chocolate is planning to source cocoa beans from the Solomon Islands to produce chocolate.
Speaking to the Solomon Star on Wednesday Dr Nat Bletter, ethnobotanist, cacao researcher and chocolate maker based in Hawaii said, he has been collecting cocoa beans from Hawaii, South and Central America to produce chocolates for sales in Hawaii and the States.
Following his arrival in the country to conduct a chocolate production training for local farmers, he was able to taste the chocolate produced from local cocoa beans.
Thus, he said, his company is looking at working closely with cocoa growers in Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands so that they (Madre) can buy cocoa beans from these countries.
He added by having chocolates produced from the pacific islands will also assist in exposing Pacific Island cocoa beans and chocolates to US markets, customers and other chocolate makers.
Dr Nat said, he will be working closely with some of the cocoa farmers to ship a tonne of cocoa beans to Hawaii so that it can be produced into chocolates and gets promoted during an upcoming chocolate festival later this year in United States.
He said, the chocolates would also be sent back to farmers so that they can see and taste the end product of their cocoa beans.
He highlighted, with many so many chocolate makers in the US the demand for cocoa beans would grow in the future.
“And this would benefit the cocoa farmers in Solomon Island and the pacific islands the demand grows.”
He said, working with smaller numbers of growers like in the Pacific is easy to work with in the event there are changes happening in the market.
During the training the local farmers at Maranatha they were briefed on the bio-security issues when exporting cocoa beans as well as export laws of the country.
Tomorrow, during the final day of the training, a chocolate competition will be staged where participants will be able to produce various products made of chocolate.
By MOFFAT MAMU