Monday, 23 July 2012 9:10 AM

Government Plans to Double Cocoa Production

With surging global demand and a rise in rural earnings the government is seriously pushing to double the current levels of cocoa output by 2014.

Apart from logging and palm oil, cocoa is Solomon Islands' third biggest export earning. Recent data shows that it brought in between SBD$120 to SBD$130 million dollars per year.

The ministry of agriculture says cocoa industry experts believe the country has vast untapped potential in the sector and efforts so far have barely scratched the surface.

Cocoa is turning out to be a major income earner for rural growers and communities with more than 70 percent of earnings going straight to rural populations.

"Data indicate the activity supports up to 20,000 families across the country," a statement from the ministry reads.

"The future of cocoa lies with improving the quality of the cocoa trees and the processed beans throughout out the country, so that farmers can get good prices for their cocoa."

As part of its strategy the ministry's research division is also working with the quarantine department to bring in cocoa plants from overseas with a view to improve local variety.

These measures are expected to boost cocoa exports from the current levels of 6,000 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes by 2017.

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