COCOA farmers in Vanua Levu can now breathe a sigh of relief as local and overseas markets have once again shown an interest in the product.
In an effort to revitalise the once-neglected cocoa industry, farmers will soon be visited by staff of the Department of Agriculture and be advised on how to rehabilitate their farms.
Principal agricultural officer northern John Cox said a group of extension staff was on a four-day training last week to learn the latest on how to rehabilitate the commodity before they conveyed the same knowledge to the farmers.
"The demand for cocoa is high nowadays not only from the overseas market but local ones as well especially resorts and hotels in the country," Mr Cox said.
"In trying to meet this, we want farmers to prune and rehabilitate their existing farms for production. If the rehabilitation process goes well, cocoa plants can mature within two years."
Mr Cox said the cocoa industry was neglected in the past because of market problems but there had been renewed interest and farmers could supplement their income from the product.
"For overseas markets, we are looking at exporting the semi-processed cocoa products as it is much more expensive than the cocoa beans," he said.
"This is another way of raking in more money for the country and improving the standard of living for most people."
The department is looking at rehabilitating farms at Saqani, Kubulau, Wainunu, Savusavu and Matasawalevu in Macuata.