By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online
A cocoa plantation in Bougainville is earmarked for funding assistance for its upgrading through the Wellington Chocolate Voyage kick-starter campaign.
The campaign which is run by Wellington chocolate producer, Rochelle Harrison and Gabe Davidson, and an international development worker, Sera Price, endeavours to raise funds ($36, 000 or more) to provide a full-scale upgrade to a Bougainville cocoa plantation and to enhance the capabilities of farmers to grow cocoa with the right farming equipment.
The chocolate producers admit that operating the Wellington Chocolate Factory is the ultimate dream job but it has enabled them to have deep insight into the hardships faced by cocoa famers around the world. Fortunately for them (and Bougainville) they met Sera Price and learnt of a Bougainville cocoa-growing legend, James Rutuna, who needed support, hence, the campaign coming to be.
“James Rutana is Bougainville’s Mr Cocoa. He’s been growing and developing cocoa beans since 1958, and runs a programme to share his knowledge and planting materials with other farmers in the region. James is an inspirational figure but has faced many setbacks – the Wellington Chocolate Voyage is way for Kiwis to get behind his dreams for Bougainville”, said Ms Price.
“Bougainville once had fine quality cocoa but the industry suffered, as did the rest of the region, from war and neglect. They are rebuilding and we want to help put their cocoa back on the map”, said Ms Harrison.
The chocolate campaign also seeks to buy the plantation’s cocoa beans, graded as being of ‘high quality’ and rare. These beans will be purchased at a fair price, and then transported by Chocolate producers Rochelle Harrison and Gabe Davidson themselves, with James Rutuna, by sea to Wellington.
The cocoa beans will then be produced into a unique and beautifully flavoured artisan product at the Wellington Chocolate Factory, and will be called ‘Bougainville Bar’.
The campaign will be launched on Thursday 6 November, 2014, officially beginning the chocolate-journey between Bougainville and New Zealand.
The Wellington Chocolate Voyage kick-starter campaign is an idea birthed from the passion for great food, ethical business and extraordinary people, as stated by Davidson.
“The Voyage is an adventure for anyone who loves chocolate and wants to see amazing places like Bougainville get a fair deal.
The chocolate to be produced from Bougainville cocoa beans ‘Bougainville Bar’ will be presented to backers of the campaign and Bougainville cocoa bean farmers. Many of whom have yet to taste chocolate or let alone, chocolate made from beans they themselves had nurtured and grown.
“By backing us you get to follow the entire journey from bean to bar. Plus there’s a sailing ship and everyone can get chocolate”, said Davidson.
Kiwis have deep respect and affection for the people of Bougainville, with a long-standing relationship with the region, and notably, with the book and movie ‘Mr Pip’ having achieved great success in the country, New Zealanders have Bougainville in their hearts.
“The Voyage is part of the new revolution in artisan chocolate, where mega-industrialised production takes a back seat to skill, care, and people. We want everyone to be part of making great chocolate and a better tasting world”, said Mr Davidson.
Video preview of the Wellington Chocolate Voyage kick-starter campaign is available here