Cocoa growers gain confidence in crop
FARMERS from Cooktown to Tully and west to Milandra flowed into the region this week to hear the latest about “growing chocolate” from local cocoa growers.
Almost 40 farmers descended on Mossman on Sunday to be part of an open day that showed them first-hand how to grow and market the crop.
Managing director of Daintree Estates, Lance Sparrow, said he was thrilled by the turnout.
“The people who turned up were fascinated by the crop and wanted to know all about and the potential of the crop in dollar terms if they were to become cocoa growers,” Mr Sparrow said.
“And so we told them warts and all what is involved in growing this relatively new crop in Australia, and in particular North Queensland.
“We told them how much it would cost to start a crop, and for the smaller operators this would mean planting only two to three hectares and for the bigger operators that would mean planting from five to 10 hectares.
“Also how much return they could expect per tonne of cocoa and what bugs to be wary of that can attack the crop and whether they should grow organic or nonorganic crops.
“We gave them every conceivable piece of information we could about growing cocoa and everyone was thrilled by the potential of the crop.
“Six people have put their hands up to be growers once they have done their own investigation into the numbers.”
Mr Sparrow said he was also able to point out the cheaper tax benefits for those people who were able to use their superannuation funds.
“The growing conditions up here in North Queensland are ideal for this variety of cocoa nuts and the chocolate that can be made from them is just such a superior product,” he said.
“That is why we need more farmers to grow this wonderful nut because we are having trouble keeping up with the demand of producing and selling our Daintree Estates chocolate.
“We are now selling into the big cities with new markets coming online all the time and all of us who are presently involved in producing this wonderful chocolate are thrilled at its potential to explode once the wider world finds out about it.”
Growing in confidence: Gerard Puglisi and Lance Sparrow