THE launch of the Daintree Estates Cocoa in Port Douglas next week is just another example of how innovative and determined people in our region can be.
For the handful of farmers involved in the production of Australia’s first truly home-grown chocolate, the launch of the new confectionery range signifies the culmination of more than 10 years of blood, sweat and tears.
It is probably fair to say that none of the local growers responsible for harvesting the cocoa required to produce the chocolate knew one end of the plant from the other a decade or so ago.
But they had the foresight to realise there were hard times ahead for the sugar cane industry, and they put in the time and effort to research a new industry which has plenty of potential in the tropics.
The commercial release of the Daintree Estates Cocoa chocolate range is just the next step in the vision to truly develop a sustainable industry to complement sugar cane in the Douglas region.
While the chocolate is being manufactured in Melbourne at present, the local consortium which does all of the harvesting and processing have grand plans to eventually produce the entire product in our own backyard.
These four growers have done all of the hard yards on their own up until this point, but they are prepared to share the spoils and are encouraging other local cane growers to diversify and plant cocoa as well.
They are all still farming cane as well, they’ve just branched out to introduce another revenue stream to help sustain their life on the land.
This type of entrepreneurial spirit should be embraced by our local farmers and serious thought given as to the benefits of following their lead.
While the sugar cane industry appears to be going from strength to strength in the last couple of years due to record prices, it wasn’t so long ago local farmers were on their knees for the very same reason.
If Daintree Estates Cocoa is able to establish a processing hub in the region, it will also help attract chocolate connoiseurs from around the world to sample their product and check out how it is made from cocoa bean to chocolate bar. And by all reports, it tastes great.