A joint effort from mining company, St Barbara, Simberi Mining Area Association and Simberi Mining Services has seen the people of Tabar Islands produce their first chocolate bar.
Labelled Tabar Chocolate, it was produced by Paradise Foods Limited from Simberi Cocoa Beans on a trial basis.
Owner of Simberi Mine, St Barbara introduced coca farming to the islanders back in 2017, and 3 years later, they have produced their own chocolate bar, made from their own cocoa.
Upon purchasing the mine from Allied Gold in 2012, St Barbara, operator of Simberi Mine reintroduced cocoa farming to the people of Tabar Islands and planting began in 2017.
A total of 50 hectares were planted on Simberi and Tabar Islands from seedlings purchased by St Barabara, the Simberi Mining Area Association and Simberi Mining Services.
120 family farmers were involved in this project with technical advice form St Barbara and in September this year, 30 kilograms of sun-dried cocoa beans from Simberi made their way to the Queen Emma Chocolate Factory for trialing.
The factory produced 1900 packets of dark sweet chocolate and is being distributed to the farmers and New Ireland government leaders to sample.
The recent publicity on the chocolate has inspired farmers to pursue cocoa farming while enjoying mine royalties.
They thanked St Barbara and its partners for this project which will sustain livelihoods even after the closure of mine.
Political leaders of New Ireland have also thrown their support behind this project.
New Ireland Governor, Sir Julius Chan and Member for Namatanai Walter Schnaubelt thanked St Barbara fro driving this initiative and encouraged the mining company to continue the collaboration with the community and the government for more sustainable project opportunities.
General Manager of Simberi Operations, Jason Robertson was pleased with the outcome and said it is important for the company to create a sustainable future for the people of Tabar Islands and the wider New Ireland Province.
St Barbara operates on five commitments and one of it is Stronger Communities and under this commitment, it strives to help communities thrive and prosper as displayed in this project.