Vanuatu’s cocoa industry has not only been able to develop a partnership with SA premium chocolate brand but also with a wider range of stakeholders including Vanuatu-based ice cream and biscuit manufacturers!
Global Food Studies’ Professor in Agriculture and Food Policy Professor Randy Stringer is the lead project researcher of several activities to build the capacity of Vanuatu’s cocoa industry to produce high quality cocoa so they can contribute to meet growing demand from niche market chocolate and chocolate-based products under the PARDI project. The University of Adelaide is partnering with local institutions in Vanuatu including ‘Alternative Communities Trade in Vanuatu’ (ACTIV), the Organic Cocoa Grower’s Association of Vanuatu (CGA), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and the Vanuatu Ministry of Trade and Industry. The project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
According to the SPC’s news, Vanuatu’s cocoa industry has recently delivered its first batch of chocolate to local Italian cream maker ‘Gelato, Port Vila.The industry has also reached an agreement with a local biscuit maker, Lapita, which produces gluten-free products allowing the manufacturer to produce Vanuatu-based chocolate biscuits.
There is high demand for these products from tourists and this opportunity benefits not only Vanuatu cocoa farmers but also food manufacturers. The opportunities will be further strengthened by the opening of a chocolate factory in Port Vila.
The cocoa industry’s links with food processors must be supported by farmer’s enhanced capacity to produce high quality cocoa. The PARDI project has contributed to this process by organising various programs targeted to farmers including gourmet chocolate making competition; capacity building workshops which cover topics such as best agricultural practices, cocoa processing methods and quality control practices, and more targeted training with selected producers on how to better manage their plantations (pruning) and awareness on best processing practises; and the provision of technical assistance in particular solar drying strategies to address bean smokiness.