Aligning genetic resources, production and post-harvest systems to market opportunities for Pacific island and Australian cocoa

Project code
AUD 2,377,344
Research program manager
Ms Irene Kernot
Project leader
Yan Diczbalis
Commissioned organisation
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
APR 2017
MAR 2023
Project status
Legally committed/Active
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This project is strengthening cocoa value chains in the South Pacific islands (Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) and Australia. 

Cocoa exports provide livelihoods for more than 50,000 households in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands and Vanuatu (between a fifth and a third of the populations). Significant domestic or potential export industries also exist in Samoa and Fiji, and an estimated 310,000 people are directly involved in cocoa production in the South Pacific countries. 

Scoping studies have shown that Pacific Island cocoa is well-placed to compete successfully in high-value, low-volume markets, based on fine flavour, unusual genetic resources and novel ‘single origin’ branding. The adoption of a ‘whole of chain’ approach to the cocoa export industry will lead to increased agronomic productivity, and development and uptake of best practice in fermentation and drying to optimise cocoa quality. 

Support of niche chocolate manufacturers, linking them with producers and producer groups committed to the production of quality cocoa beans, will enhance market outcomes. 

Expected outcomes

  • Improved cocoa production in the South Pacific through a shift away from seed propagation and towards clonal production of plants. 
  • Greater understanding of current roles of women and youth in cocoa production, processing, quality control, marketing and certification activities. 
  • Greater understanding among South Pacific cocoa producers of the importance of quality control, fermentation, drying and marketing, through training in chocolate making. 
  • Increased household earnings for those involved in cocoa production due to improved quality of cocoa produced and greater access to high-value, low-volume markets. 
Key partners
Alternative Communities Trade in Vanuatu
Fiji Ministry of Agriculture
Samoan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF)
Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock
The Pacific Community - SPC
University of Adelaide
Vanuatu Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity
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Fact sheet HORT/2014/078