Destined for its buyer, Tachibana Company in Japan, the 5 hundred kilograms of smoke taint free cocoa beans are the first of a total of 2 tons that will be delivered to the company.
This arrangement was made possible through assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) financial project under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that it facilitates in the country, through relevant government agencies.
UNDP GEF Field Coordinator, Raymond Joshua, who has been with this cocoa project since day one, says it was a relief that the first bags of cocoa beans were airlifted out.
And the partnership will continue with the farmers from Poio ward to get the balance of the total 2 tons to be delivered as well.
Joshua says it is a milestone achievement and is intended for the premium market, unlike the conventional bulk market where most depots sell to as middle men between farmers and buyers in the world market.
Hence the cocoa is being sold at 5 US Dollars per kilogram as Tachibana is paying for the freight cost.
There are benefits for this smoke taint free cocoa, apart from the better price that farmers get, duration of storage is also another plus.
Joshua says the use of solar dryers by the Poio farmers is meeting market demands, especially for the Japanese market requirements, while it sustains livelihoods in an environmentally friendly way.
There are plans to trial a mini chocolate factory under this partnership, which also includes the Pomio District Development Authority (DDA).
He iterates that after the 2 tons are supplied to Tachibana, they are looking at inviting the Japanese buyer back to re-negotiate for a much bigger volume of export from Poio ward.
(UNDP GEF Field Coordinator, Raymond Joshua, inspecting the packed cocoa beans from Poio ward as Air Niugini workmen load them onto the plane on the morning of Dec 13)