Inaugural Fiji Chocolate Competition highlights resurgent cocoa sector

Nadi

The Ministry of Agriculture in Fiji in partnership with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Pacific Community (SPC), announced the winners of the Inaugural Fiji Chocolate (Cocoa) Competition today at the Vanua Chocolate Café in Nadi, Fiji. The winning entries will now be couriered to Paris, France, where they will be in consideration for the global Cocoa of Excellence Programme, and potentially be nominated for the 2019 International Cocoa Awards, the Salon du Chocolat.

Out of the seven samples judged today, Arif Khan’s cocoa bean sample from Vanua Levu, won the competition, with Manoa Raika, also from Vanua Levu and Iowane Kalou, from Tailevu, taking the second and third place respectively.

Chocolate2.jpgFor the competition, Fijian cocoa growers provided samples of their fermented and dried beans which were then processed into a cocoa liquor (paté de cacao), allowing the judges to identify the wide range of flavours and aromas in each cocoa sample.

The Director of the Land Resources Division of SPC, Mr. Jan Helsen, highlighted the significance of the competition and what it represents to the country, saying  ‘this competition is not only about producing chocolate, it shows the Pacific’s ability to adapt to climate change by tapping into the Region’s traditional climate and produce resilient food using healthy food production systems.’

Designed to boost the reviving of the local cocoa industry, the competition targeted Fijian growers with the capacity to ferment and dry cocoa beans. The cocoa sector has been increasing its production but so far has been unable to meet the growing international demand. In response, the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture has assisting farmers to ensue local quantity and quality continues to improve in order to carve out a sustainable place for Fiji in the competitive international cocoa market.

The Ministry of Agriculture in Fiji with support from ACIAR and SPC is working to improve understanding of cocoa genetic resources available in Fiji with the aim to increase productivity. It also seeks to improve quality through a deeper understanding of local fermentation and drying practices.

Involving Fijian cocoa growers in national and international competitions ensures that the preferences of buyers and markets are complimentary. By working closely with the Fiji cocoa industry, a development strategy will emerge which will enable Fiji to become an internationally recognised supplier of quality chocolate.

Media Contact: Mary Rokonadravu | Adviser – Information, Communications and Knowledge Management; Land Resources Division (LRD), SPC Narere Campus, Suva | Telephone: Landline - (679) 337 0733 Ext. 35514; Mobile – (679) 721 5335 | Email: [email protected]

Notes:This activity is part of an ACIAR-SPC project with five Pacific islands’ country partners, the governments of Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Titled ‘Aligning genetic resources, production and post-harvest systems to market opportunities for Pacific island and Australian cocoa,’ the project is the result of several ACIAR scoping studies that suggested Pacific islands’ cocoa is well positioned to compete in high-value, low volume markets. However, to achieve this success, a better understanding of cocoa genetic resources available, increased productivity and improved quality based on better fermentation and drying is necessary. The project aims to strengthen cocoa value chains in a whole-of-value-chain approach and runs from 2016 – 2020.

About Us: The Pacific Community (SPC) is an international development organisation gathering 26 Member Countries and Territories. SPC harnesses science, knowledge and innovation for sustainable development, benefiting Pacific people, since 1947. www.spc.int

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