Australia and Solomon Islands have opened a jointly funded National Cocoa Quality Testing Laboratory.
The National Cocoa Testing Laboratory was officially opened by the visiting Australian Parliamentary Secretary the Hon Steven Ciobo and the Minister for Commerce, Industries, Labour & Immigration, William Marau.
Located within the Commodity Export Marketing Authority Office, the new laboratory enables exporters for the first time to test their beans and receive accreditation of the quality. Certification, in turn, should increase the incentive to produce higher quality beans which can attract higher prices internationally.
The establishment of the testing facility will facilitate exporters to negotiate improved terms with overseas buyers based on quality.
Speaking at the opening, Mr Ciobo said Australia is proud to have been a partner in the establishment of the facility.
“Australia has been a keen supporter of the cocoa industry in Solomon Islands for many years. I am pleased this new laboratory creates the opportunity for farmers and exporters to increase income from their cocoa products.”
“Australia recognizes Cocoa is a key industry that has benefited many rural farmers given its importance as an export earner and source of rural livelihoods with 75% of export income being retained by small holders and processors.”
“This testing facility is a terrific example of partnership between the governments of Australia and Solomon Islands.”
Commerce Minister William Marau said the opening of the new testing laboratory opens up more opportunities for local farmers.
“With the new facility, farmers will be able to demonstrate the quality of their products internationally, ensure that products meet contractual requirements and are rewarded for improving the quality of their product.”
Australia provided more than SBD$600 000 (AUD$100,000) for the laboratory through the Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access Program, PHAMA. The goal of PHAMA is to increase economic growth and improve rural livelihoods in selected Pacific Island Countries by obtaining, maintaining and improving access into markets for exports of selected high value primary products.
Source: Press Release, Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands