THE Tailevu Cocoa Farmers Association raked in just over $350 from selling locally-produced chocolate on the first day of the Crest Fiji Agriculture Show 2012 at Churchill Park in Lautoka.
While the figure may seem meagre, Namau cocoa grower and development manager of the association, Tevita Niuvou, said the sales were a mere step in their planned expansion and the unfolding of a dream that began over 30 years ago.
"Coming to the west and taking part in the agriculture show is part of a five-year plan which includes expanding the number of farms and plants, establishing Tailevu Gold chocolate as a brand and taking it to the domestic and international market," Mr Niuvou said.
Mr Niuvou said there were currently 92 cocoa farmers in Tailevu and 100,000 trees had been rehabilitated and planted.
"The plan is to increase this to 1.5 million by 2016 and this has been made possible with government's injection of $200,000 to the project," he said.
"Right now 13 out of 22 districts in the Tailevu Province are involved in cocoa cultivation and we plan to increase that number significantly."
Mr Niuvou said he was inspired to further the cocoa industry after visiting Switzerland a few years ago and seeing how the industry had developed there.
"I've seen what they do, not only with cocoa and chocolate but also with apples.
"They make use of everything and develop so many products out of it and that's what I want to do with Fiji cocoa."