Its 9am, and Kathe, Brian and I have just arrived for the first organic certification session in Kira Kira – Makira Island. We had 22 local cocoa farmers come to the event, there was lots of information to take in, lots of questions, and we finished off the event with some chocolate tasting that I made with one of the farmers beans. That was my favorite part.
We think the island of Makira will be easy to become certified, as no one uses chemicals here. The farmers work incredibly hard and use traditional farming practices, meaning it has a very low risk for contamination (like zero). One thing that stood out to me from our session was there was only one female attendee. When we did a feedback form, she wrote this:
I know from the trip that women make a significant contribution to the cocoa sector in the various stages of production and processing, and I'm assuming the cultural norms of the Islands are why the women did not attend.
After the session, all the farmers travel with us to Lenard's farm – and let it be known that he is one lucky man. His farm is paradise! Its green, lush and blossoming. The entrance is lined with wild cacao and fruit trees. It's simple living at its best, complete with his small hut (no electricity) and fresh flowing water.
As I said in the last blog, Lenard was one of the best farmers we met. We set up his solar bubble dryer that he won at the SolChoc - Solomon Islands Cocoa & Chocolate festival, showing it to the other farmers. He said that it has improved his bean drying time and we can see its improved the bean quality. It's not weather dependent, which in a wet tropical environment can significantly slow down production. Overall it was a exciting and insightful day.
Up next on the blog: Travel to the beautiful, wild and remote Waimarie province in North West Coast.