Chocolate lovers and Samoan cocoa growers will both benefit from a $4.8m, five-year programme of support for Samoa’s cocoa industry, Prime Minister Bill English announced in Samoa today.

“Samoa has ideal conditions to produce larger amounts of high value, chocolate-grade cocoa,” Mr English says.

Samoa exported about 5000 tonnes of cocoa annually during the 1960s, but exports have since declined to only 40 to 50 tonnes a year.

“Now there is a cocoa renaissance taking place in Samoa and New Zealand is very pleased to be able to contribute to it,” Mr English says.

The New Zealand investment is intended to help Samoa achieve its goal of developing a thriving, sustainable, resilient and inclusive agricultural sector, with a particular focus on local crops where smallholders have a comparative edge.

“The funding will provide practical help for farmers by establishing grafting nurseries and providing training on grafting and growing cocoa plants,” Mr English says.

“Furthermore, it will provide on-farm training in plantation management, harvesting and processing. New processing facilities on Upolu and Savaii will be developed, and the industry will be helped to establish a national cocoa association and develop an industry strategy.”

The five-year programme will complement various other small-scale initiatives currently under way within the Samoan cocoa industry. New Zealand is already co-funding a targeted initiative in Samoa with J.H. Whittakers and Sons, to improve production and processing.

This programme has enabled Samoa’s largest cocoa exporter, Va’ai Plantations to lift the quality and quantity of cocoa it supplies.

Va’ai Plantation now supplies 30 tonnes of cocoa a year for Whittaker’s ‘Single Origin Samoan Cacao’ block and intends to double exports by the end of 2018.

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