Cocoa Partnership to Boost Exports and Create Local Jobs

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AUSTRALIA’S Strongim Bisnis recently held an evening of cocoa networking, connecting Solomon Islands cocoa businesses, international cocoa buyers, and the governments of the Solomon Islands and Australia. 

Australia also facilitated the attendance of eight international cocoa buyers from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the USA, and Japan, providing them with the opportunity to explore potential export partnerships within the Solomon Islands cocoa sector.

Speaking at the cocoa networking, Minister for Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration, Hon. Minister Harry Kuma reaffirmed the Ministry’s ongoing commitment to partnering with cocoa stakeholders and Australia to lay the groundwork for significant growth in the cocoa sector.

“At this juncture I would like to thank the Australian Government for facilitating such partnerships which hold the potential to ensure market access and boost export volumes. This is to elevate the reputation of Solomon Islands cocoa internationally whilst supporting the local industry and local jobs.

“I would like to thank our international guests for gracing us with their presence and expressing their interest in our cocoa industry.

The cocoa industry continues to thrive in Solomon Islands, despite fluctuating market prices and climate change. Photo credit @ AHC

“I share my gratitude to the Australian Government for hosting of this networking event. Together, let us forge strong partnerships and elevate the Solomon Islands cocoa industry to new heights,” Hon. Minister Kuma said.

Cocoa, one of Solomon Islands’ biggest agricultural export earners, provides income opportunities for over 25,000 smallholder farmers and over 10 processors and exporters, generating SBD 15 million in export sales annually. 

Australia’s Economic Counsellor, Emily Flahive, reiterated Australia’s strong support for the Solomon Islands cocoa sector and creating jobs for Solomon Islanders.

“It’s about jobs, it’s about livelihoods, and it’s about economic growth. We know that this is one of the country’s biggest agricultural export earners with more than 15 million dollars export sales annually.

“We know it’s a priority for the new Manele government to capitalize on the country’s natural resources such as cocoa as well as other commodities such as coconut and fish and Australia is really proud to be the Solomon Islands’ number one economic partner.

“Australia has a long history of supporting the cocoa sector through Strongim Bisnis. This is a great example of our growing economic partnership in action. Through Strongim Bisnis we are partnering with farmers across Makira, Malaita, Western and Guadalcanal Provinces. Investing over 2.7 million dollars in these local partnerships,” Ms Flahive said.

Speaking on behalf of the Cocoa Industry Working Group, James Kana thanked the Solomon Islands and Australian Governments for their ongoing support to the cocoa sector.

“Despite facing challenges such as fluctuating market prices and climate change, the cocoa industry continues to thrive, thanks to the dedication and commitment by organisations and initiatives who are working very closely to support the smallholder farmers, empowering them with training, resources, and access to international markets.

“On this note I would like to take this unique opportunity to sincerely thank the Australian Government, for your unwavering support, to Strongim Bisnis, and your sister program, Phama Plus, towards supporting the industry.

“Equally I would like to acknowledge the ongoing support from the Solomon Islands Government in creating a conducive enabling environment and trade opportunities over the years,” Mr Kana said.

Through Strongim Bisnis and PHAMA Plus, Australia assists its cocoa partners with product diversification and value-addition, aggregation of high-quality dried beans, biosecurity, identifying new domestic and export markets for cocoa products to stimulate the sector’s growth and to generate increased income and jobs. 

Source: Australian High Commission in Solomon Islands Media Release 

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