A Cocoa Entrepreneur’s Chocolate Dream

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Green grow investment based in the Malango area of Central Guadalcanal is the first rural-based Agri-business in Central Guadalcanal with a single focus on reaching one of the common end products of cocoa, Chocolate.

Owner of (GGI) Gabriel Dakei has relayed his vision and as well as challenges faced during a brief interview recently with Isles Media in his office at Malango, Central Guadalcanal.

“I have my vision, I want to see the end product of cocoa, which is chocolate and now I’m working towards that.

Owner of Green Grow Investment Gabriel Dakei. PHOTO: MYRNE LIVETT

“We Solomon islanders planted a lot of cocoa but why are we still not producing chocolate, the end product, which is why I will stick to cocoa because I want to see the end product,” Dakei said.

Dakei is a recipient of two cocoa awards during SOL CHOC 2018 and 2019 organized by the Australian Government Funded, Strongim Bisnis initiative.

His dried cocoa beans were fermented at his home using the state-of-the-art solar drier that produced top-grade quality beans. His beans labelled cocoa Malango reached grading on the international level in France, turned into first-grade chocolate and had been sent back to him.

He pointed out, that is one of the encouraging factors as to why he remains with cocoa, a local commodity that he already tastes the fruit of his sweat from.

Dakei’s state-of-the-art solar drier. PHOTO: MYRNE LIVETT

He also continued to acknowledge the Ministry of Agriculture for being helpful in providing inputs in terms of technical advice and supply of materials to carry out the groundwork.

Dakei planted 200 cocoa trees at Mataruka, he wants to expand his plot to a larger one, but he’s also facing the usual challenge of land dispute, as he said, only with his relatives. To tackle that challenge and keep on producing quality beans GGI liaised with 20 smallholder rural cocoa farmers registered under the name Haevago cocoa farmers in partnership with Green Grow Investment.

He is confident with his business as he observes less competition in the area, identifying other would-be competitors as only engaging in a single strand of marketing, selling dried beans only to Honiara-based local dealers or exporters.

“I started with 100 trees and the main thing is I have the opportunity to own a solar drier through RDP Funding in 2018. And also encouragement from people in the community. I remember other crops that came up like kava and Noni people visited us here. But I remain focused on cocoa, with a stable market in the country every year,” He maintains.

“Another important thing is because of workload I must concentrate on one thing, as I said I want to venture into producing the end product and we have to stick with cocoa because it grows well in our soil here, with a sustainable life span that benefits generations.

“By looking at the Malango area, we have to stick with cocoa, because cocoa trading is easier for people in the community,” He said.

GGI now buys wet beans at $ 3:00 per kilogram, serving smallholders in the area since its inception.

“I usually send 500 to 1000 kilograms to a Niche Market in Australia under Brian Atkin’s Makira Gold Premium, through Coconut Pacific shipments. As well as sell in bulk to a local market in town.” He said.

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