Editor’s com­ment:

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FEEDBACK - Greg Mclean Man­ag­ing editor

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.

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