Leulua'ialiiotumua Bill English has pledged NZ$4.8million (T$8.5m) to support Samoa’s cocoa industry.
The announcement was made yesterday during his visit to the Eden plantation in Fasito’o, as part of his state visit.
“Samoa has ideal conditions to produce larger amounts of high value, chocolate-grade cocoa,” Mr. English said.
During his visit, he saw first hand the process of getting the cocoa ready for exporting.
He was impressed with the ingenuity of how the cocoa is processed by the workers.
“It’s about the integrity of the product, the people would buy a chocolate wants to know the story. There’s a great story here about the tradition and the way its done.
“It’s great that the Samoan government can see that potential and they can work with the farmers to show them a few changes, based on traditional knowledge could make this industry successful.”
According to a press statement issued by the New Zealand government, 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.
“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.
The Vaai plantation has had to explore land in Upolu, including Mrs Tuli Simeti’s of Eden’s planation to meet the demands.