Co­coa grow­ers gain con­fi­dence in crop

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

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.”

Photo by DAR­RYL KIRK

Grow­ing in con­fi­dence: Ger­ard Puglisi and Lance Sparrow

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