The Australian Government initiative, Strongim Bisnis, through its partnership with Cathliro Commodity Development Limited, has supported training for 84 cocoa farmers. This training aims to help farmers improve the quality of their cocoa and increase their income from cocoa.
The training was held for farmers who were already selling wet cocoa beans to businesses in Solomon Islands, such as the Cathliro Chocolat Haus. Training is being held at Belaha, Tenaru, Black Post and Kakabona. It started in early May and will run for one month.
The training covers cocoa farm management and financial training around cocoa bean sales. Training was provided by Robert Waisu, a local cocoa specialist and trainer. Waisu’s training covered technical aspects such as pest control, grafting and the use of organic fertilising. He also taught about the financial aspects of planning when and how to harvest cocoa to increase its quality and attract better prices.
Waisu said “I am very pleased to provide this training to so many cocoa farmers. Cocoa is an important industry for Solomon Islands and something that many of us can grow to earn income for our families.” Some of the trainees taught by Waisu were also being assessed for their potential to become cocoa farm management trainers themselves, so they may share this training in their communities.
The training was attended by women, men and youth farmers who had already been growing cocoa as a commercial crop for family households. Australian High Commission Counsellor Economic, Andrew Schloeffel said “Agriculture is an important part of Solomon Islands’ economy. Our support aims to strengthen farmers’ ability to earn an income and build resilience during challenging times, including now against the financial impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19).”
Following the training, farmers believed they will be better able to manage their cocoa farm to produce quality cocoa and increase their income from cocoa in the future.
Strongim Bisnis is an Australian Government funded program that supports growth in the tourism, cocoa and coconut sectors with a strong focus on supporting women.