by Quinton Alomp – EM TV, Port Moresby
A famous Belgium chocolate company is showing interest in investing in PNG’s cocoa industry.
The Belgian Chocolate Group, well known in over 80 countries for its chocolate products, is now on a fact-finding mission in PNG to look at possible investment opportunities.
Most of their chocolate products are made using cocoa beans.
Managing Director Marc Pauwels said they are looking at possibilities of adding PNG cocoa beans to their chocolate products. Cocoa is one of PNG’s exports, with East Sepik province currently producing 16 tonnes a year.
Yangoru-Saussia MP Richard Maru said the government is willing to partner with the Belgium company to carry out feasibility study and hopefully establish a joint cocoa business in East Sepik province.
“I am pleased, on behalf of the government, to offer to partner your company to jointly fund a comprehensive feasibility study by next month to assess the commercial viability of setting up a full integrated cocoa business in East Sepik Province,” Maru said.
The study will cover measuring government land to set up a cocoa nucleus estate from seed nurseries to planting cocoa on a company-owned cocoa estate. Local farmers will also be given opportunities to sell their beans, only if proper standards are followed. Maru told the management of the chocolate company that the government is willing to fund 50 per cent of the feasibility study.
The invitation from the chocolate company comes at a time when the government seriously considers processing all cocoa into final products in the country.
The delegation comprised of representative from five different companies and consultants. They are here on an invitation from the PNG Ambassador to Belgium, Joshua Kalinoe. Kalinoe told EM TV News last night that the embassy in Brussels will continue to look for more European investors. He said Europeans are more conscious about quality and quality assurance.