By Lillian Sopera Keneqa, EMTV News – Port Moresby
Siwai cocoa farmers, Steven and Elizabeth Seveke, winners of the 2018 Bougainville Chocolate Festival, are currently in Melbourne, Australia to meet with well-known Australian chocolate makers.
Steven Seveke said, “For us to travel to Australia is … an eye-opener …our people have been growing cocoa for the last hundred years … now we are moving forward with the ACIAR.”
The Seveke’s finally get to see what happens to their home-grown cocoa beans because chocolate makers across Australia received 20 kilogram samples of the couples’ winning cocoa and their cocoa beans were created into various chocolate products.
Through the partnership of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) the annual chocolate festival brings farmers, cocoa buyers, industry researchers and chocolate makers together to develop Bougainville’s cocoa.
Bougainville Counselor, Alistair McEachern, said, “It’s a very special occasion for them … and us. It’s the first time we’ve sent chocolate festival winners to Australia.”
Adding on, Governance Minister Counsellor, Andrew Egan said “We have been a key partner for the Bougainville peace agreement and we take our responsibility to Bougainville and to the National Government of PNG as a witness very seriously … a key part of discharging our obligation is investing in the economic prosperity on Bougainville and the people.
The competition encourages farmers to adopt best practice in cocoa management and fermentation to support cocoa production and quality of Bougainville’s cocoa sector.
This once in a lifetime opportunity saw the couple also buying the much needed tools and equipment to improve their cocoa production.
Seveke said, “… to produce the quality cocoa… we have to be the owners of the cocoa value chain.”