COCOA rehabilitation works have begun in the Tailevu highlands.
A statement from the Ministry of Agriculture said farmers in the hills of Dawasamu were already on the go.
The government, through the Agriculture Ministry, is trying its best to revitalise the cocoa industry.
Recently, a team from the ministry visited farmers in Delakado Village and also witnessed first-hand the cocoa rehabilitation works that had begun.
The statement said through its budget of $300,000, the Cocoa Rehabilitation Program will see cocoa farms in the Central and Northern divisions getting a major make-over.
For cocoa farmers in the Delakado and Natadradave hills, it is an opportunity to appreciate and develop the standing cocoa trees that were first planted by their fathers in the earlier years of the 1980s.
The Mamilava Cocoa Project was one that was initiated back in the 1980s and was funded by an international financial institute.
In the Agriculture Ministry statement, Mamilava Cocoa Project chairman, Waisake Savu said the project began when he was still in primary school.
"I still remember vividly when my father and other men from the village camped up in the hills of Mamilava to build the infrastructure that still stands today as well as plant the existing cocoa trees," he said.
Mr Savu, 41, said the Mamilava project failed to continue after Cyclone Kina damaged a lot of cocoa trees. "I also heard that the market for cocoa was not stable too during those days and was a contributing factor to the closure of the project."
He said after some time, the women would travel up to the hills to look for the iTaukei delicacy known as ota, but would return with ripe cocoa as well, which they would take to the market to be sold in heaps.
"It sold like hot cakes so that was one reason why we continued to clean the cocoa farms because we were at least getting some money for it."
A member of the Territorial Reserves of the Royal Fiji Military Forces, Mr Savu said after returning from a one-year stint of peacekeeping duties in Sinai, Egypt in 2000, he decided to return to the land.
"Living in a village setting, there is nothing else that you can do except farm for a living and I put my heart and soul into farming so that my family could enjoy the fruits of my hard labour."
Mr Savu was planting for food security purposes but increased his yaqona farm and laid out his plans on a yearly basis.
"After a few serious discussions with members of my mataqali, we decided to maintain the Mamilava Cocoa Farms and develop it further because we knew in our hearts that it would one day become a huge industry," he said.
The Mamilava Cocoa Farms have 200,000 standing cocoa trees which are spread out on 254 hectares of land and there are plans to increase the numbers through replanting.
"We have already started work on the rehabilitation of the existing cocoa trees through pruning, field sanitation and removal of black cocoa pods," said Mr Savu.
Through the Ministry of Agriculture, they received pruners and chainsaws to assist them in the grueling task of cleaning the cocoa farm.
Every Wednesday, the men travel early to the Mamilava Cocoa Farm to carry out their rehabilitation activities and once dusk settles in, it is time to head back to the village.
"The road is quite treacherous and we also travel on horses to get to the farm as it is quite a distance from the village," said Mr Savu.
Knowledge of cocoa production has been acquired through trainings and workshops that the farmers have been attending over the years.
Mr Savu said through the frequent trainings, they have had a better understanding of cocoa production and how best they are able to maintain their cocoa farms.
"It is all about perseverance and our mataqali is determined to carry through with the project because we anticipate better days to come for the cocoa industry," he said.
Principal Agricultural Officer (Central) Tepola Seniloli said in the Agriculture Ministry statement that the Mamilava farmers had been pro-active in their approach and must be commended for their efforts.
"The group members have been encouraged to continue and the ministry will be supporting them all the way," she said.
Ms Seniloli said the Namau cocoa farm in Tailevu had really established a name for itself which of course would continue to grow over the years. "The Namau cocoa growers are producing their own local chocolate paste with the excellent quality beans that they continue to harvest but still the yields are low.
"Through the Cocoa Rehabilitation Program, we hope to address these issues with other cocoa growing areas so that Fiji is able to produce good quality cocoa," he said.
The Mamilava Cocoa Project hopes to one day produce its own chocolate paste as well.
"That is part of the plan but first and foremost we are trying our best to clean and maintain our existing cocoa trees so that they are able to produce the best cocoa in the country," said Mr Savu.
"Farmers need to wake up and realise that cocoa can offer additional income earning opportunities for their families and here at Delakado, we are doing just that."