ADRA project produces prize-winning chocolate

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Cocoa bean grower Elsie Vota (centre) receiving the serial No 1 chocolate bar (in the run of 600) from the ADRA Solomon Islands country director Stephen Tasker (right) and the ADRA Cocoa Livelihoods manager Patrick Mesia (left).

A cocoa farmer supported by ADRA Solomon Islands has seen a chocolate bar made from her cocoa beans win third prize at an international competition.

Elsie Vota won first prize for her cocoa beans at the ADRA-supported inaugural Solomon Islands Chocolate Week competition in Honiara last year.

"ADRA Solomon Islands continues to support aspiring local cocoa farmers to reach the cocoa bean standards set by Elsie."

One of the visiting USA judges, Adam Dick of Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, bought 20kg of the winning beans and made a limited run of chocolate bars, one of which he entered into the North-West Chocolate Festival in Seattle, US. That chocolate bar placed 3rd overall in the category of single origin product/bar and in doing so has raised the profile and potential for Solomon Islands cocoa amongst other international chocolate makers.

Organised by members of the Solomon Islands Cocoa Industry Working Group, including ADRA Australia’s David Cram, the Chocolate Week program included chocolate making demonstrations, tastings and outlining the whole manufacturing process for growers and the public.

“ADRA Solomon Islands is working to improve the quality of rural farmers cocoa production throughout its pre-export stages so that farmers can receive a premium price for their product,” said Stephen Tasker, ADRA Solomon Islands’ country director. “ADRA Solomon Islands continues to support aspiring local cocoa farmers to reach the cocoa bean standards set by Elsie.”

The top 10 place getters, out of 80 participants, won equipment to help improve both the quality and quantity of their cocoa production. International judges came from USA, Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia.

Elsie has received more than double the local purchase price per kg for her beans since the ADRA competition and had a huge increase in local and international offers to purchase her produce.

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The first bar in the exclusive 600 bar run.

Funding for the support and education of the chocolate farmers comes from the Australian government aid program and ADRA Australia, who have partnered with ADRA Solomon Islands.

ADRA Australia and ADRA Solomon Islands are continuing to explore further ways in which they can have a positive impact on the cocoa industry across the whole country.

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