Chocolate night held, Minister Kopu leads tasting

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MAL Minister Hon. Dudley Kopu and his Permanent Secretary Jimi Saelea tasting chocolates

The Minister for Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) Hon. Dudley Kopu last night leads the tasting of different chocolates produced from Solomon Islands very own cocoa beans.

The chocolates were produced by CEMA and the overseas visiting chocolate makers who are in the country as judges for the week-long cocoa and chocolate week competition using dry cocoa beans produced by selected farmers.

The tasting event was part of activities of the 2017 Cocoa and Chocolate week that will conclude in Honiara today, Friday with the announcing of the top 10 winners.

It was attended by international judges of the Cocoa and Chocolate week, dignitaries from high commission offices of New Zealand, Australia, ROC/Taiwan, JICA, as well as senior government officials, the private sector, traders and farmers.

International chocolate makers sharing their thoughts about the taste of the chocolates

In his remarks Hon. Minister Duddley Kopu said it is time the country’s cocoa industry focus on the markets that offer premium prices, than continue to produce quality that is only suitable for markets that offer less.

“Our production practices and processing technologies must be improved and enhanced to achieve high production of well fermented smoke taint-free cocoa beans.”

Now in its second year running, the event is organized collaboratively and funded by Australia (DFAT) in partnership with the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA), the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access program (PHAMA), the Rural Development Program (RDP) the Commodity Export Marketing Authority (CEMA), Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL).

The Minister on behalf of the Government thanked Dick and Deana from Dick Taylor Chocolate, USA; Gabe Davidson from Wellington Chocolate New Zealand, Michelle Morgan from Zokoko Chocolate, Australia and Ben Kolly from Haighs, Australia; for their time and involvement in promoting Solomon Islands cocoa internationally as well as members of the Trade Mission for coming to scope out what Solomon Islands cocoa is like.

MAL senior Officials tasting the different chocolates

Kopu also thank the sponsors of this year’s event as well as donor governments and agencies such as the Australian Government, World Bank, the International Fund for Agriculture Development who has in the past continue to provide funding support for activities that are geared towards improving the country’s cocoa industry.

Similarly without the farmers and those who provided the cocoa beans there would not be a competition and eventual winners, Mr Kopu added.

“So thank you my good farmers and traders, let us do our best to produce that quality product the cocoa buyers and chocolate manufacturers want.”

“My Ministry is committed to supporting the sector annually by assisting exporters, processors, traders and producers advance innovatively, at the same time would like to see farmers improve their crop management aspects, in order to help increase productivity,” the Minister said.

-MAL Press