The association was established following a cocoa production training at Amata village in West Ambae at the end of last month.
One of the participants, who is also a cocoa farmer and the Chairperson of WACFA, Reynold Ngui, said, “The aim of setting up the association is to unite all cocoa farmers in West Ambae to work towards achieving good quality cocoa beans to produce good quality product such as chocolate and to ensure farmers’ request of assistance from any agencies will be accessible through the association.
Farmer Ngui, is a key cocoa farmer who has grown cocoa over the past 10 years with over 2,000 cocoa trees.
“This is the first ever cocoa training conducted in West Ambae and it was an important training as farmers have learned a lot of new information starting from raising cocoa nurseries to processing of cocoa beans into chocolate.
“One of the important parts of the training is the process of fermentation of cocoa beans to ensure good quality beans at all times.
“The two-day training has stimulated a lot of the farmers’ interest, especially the end product of cocoa which is chocolate.
“The cocoa farmers that attended the training were able to visit my cocoa plantation to observe how I manage my cocoa trees as advised by Vanuatu Agriculture Research and Technical Centre (VARTC), the importance of pruning cocoa trees and conducting pruning techniques to show the participants how they can easily harvest their cocoa pods when pruning is applied.”
Cocoa farmer Ngui added, “I have attended a training on how to produce chocolate from cocoa beans at the VARTC in Santo earlier this year and I was able to obtain cocoa seedlings of the new cocoa varieties introduced by VARTC and were planted at my cocoa plantation on Ambae.
“Cocoa is one of the cash crops on Ambae that many farmers are investing in as it assists many communities to earn income for their families and growing cocoa is a very easy task to carry out.
“I am very keen in growing this crop because my entire interest is in producing chocolate and the first workshop I attended at VARTC has gained my interest so I continue to increase cocoa production.”
There are buyers who purchase green cocoa beans from cocoa farmers on West Ambae.
“I prefer selling my cocoa beans to buyers on Santo so I travel often to Santo with two to three bags of beans.
“My vision for this association of West Ambae cocoa farmers is for us to reach out to chocolate producing factories in Port Vila who will purchase our cocoa beans at a good price to produce locally made chocolate.
“This is to ensure that buyers will also provide a good price when purchasing green beans from local farmers.
“I would like to encourage cocoa farmers in West Amabe to continue to work together to increase cocoa production as it is one of the cash crops that has contributed to improving peoples’ livelihood in West Ambae.”