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Fiji Time: 8:40 PM on Tuesday 29 July

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$5.6m recovery

Ropate Valemei
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

THE Department of Agriculture has plans to revitalise the cocoa industry in Fiji following bursting demands for cocoa over the past few years.

Department crop extension director Uraia Waibuta said rehabilitating farms around Fiji was the first step to recovery, noting a funding of $5.6million for the development of cocoa, coconut, potato, ginger and rice crops.

"Cocoa is produced here but there is still not enough in the local market," Mr Waibuta said.

"The department has allocated $250,000 for the rehabilitation of cocoa farms across Fiji and we will identify other areas for farming."

He said this was to allow the department to fast-track production.

"Some of the farms located in Vanua Levu, Tailevu and Ra will be rehabilitated. We have also identified some of the farms that can cater for cocoa production."

So far, no new cocoa planting will take place but the department will continue to identify suitable areas to start new farms.

"There will be no more planting but to rehabilitate those areas first. The next step from there will be looking at identified areas that are potential for cocoa farming."

He said they were not looking at exporting cocoa just yet because of the low supply.

However, he said they were supplying cocoa locally.

He said Fiji would reap the fruits of this industry by the end of 2013 and 2014.

Small quantities of cocoa were exported to Samoan communities in Australia and New Zealand despite efforts to expand cocoa planting in the 1970s and 1980s.

He said the move to have Fiji cocoa grown organically to target niche markets was the way to go. The cocoa cropping season is from October to April and is harvested three years after planting.


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