PNG cocoa show
Growers rewarded for excellence
Papua New Guinea’s inaugural cocoa of excellence show at Kokopo earlier this year attracted farmers from across the country. One of the aims of the 2017 Air Niugini PNG Cocoa Warwagira ( warwagira means ‘show’ in the local Tolai language) was to find the best cocoa to represent PNG at the International Cocoa of Excellence show in Paris in November.
Farmers were judged in various categories, including best cocoa quality and bestmanaged block.
New cocoa farmer, Grace Klembasa, from West Sepik, won gold ahead of 36 finalists selected from 158 entries.
Klembasa is a smallholder with 2000 trees and it was her first harvest.
Kulkul Plantation on Karkar Island, Madang, got silver, and bronze went to John Yalabing, a smallholder in lower Watut in Morobe. Ramandu Plantation, in East New Britain, and Madang’s Kulili Plantation were also commended for their quality.
PNG has won awards in the international cocoa arena previously, including in 2015 when cocoa produced in lower Watut was rated in the top five in the world.
The show, which will now be staged biannually, also aimed to address cocoa quality issues and to organise group marketing to tap into niche markets.
Currently, PNG produces only one to two per cent of the world’s cocoa.
“Therefore, our major strength lies in the quality of cocoa produced,” says Naithel Wartovo, the export quality assurance manager of the Cocoa Board of Papua New Guinea.
“Quality cocoa is our strength and we have to protect it and promote it at all costs,” he says.
“Papua New Guinea cocoa has long been recognised as of the highest quality.”
He says PNG has the genetic material, good climate and soils to produce the very best cocoa.
Six international chocolate judges were involved in the Kokopo event.
They included Nathaniel Bletter, co-founder and ‘Flavormeister’ at Madre Chocolates in Hawaii; Lynn Jahnke from Charleys Chocolates in Australia; Luke Spencer from Spencer Chocolates in Australia; Sam Ratto from Videri Chocolates in the US; Martin Christy, founder of the chocolate review website Seventy %; and David Peate, former managing director of Paradise Foods in PNG.
Christy, the heady juror, said PNG’s cocoa can compete with the world’s best in terms of
Papua New Guinea cocoa has long been recognised as of the highest quality.
its great flavours and bean quality. However, he said, more work needs to be done to improve fermentation for PNG farmers to sell consistently into high-end markets.
Cocoa is PNG’s third major commodity export after palm oil and coffee. It is valued at PGK360 million per year and supports 150,000 households.
It is estimated that the industry is responsible for creating direct employment for 6000 people in PNG and indirect employment for 10,000 in spin-off activities such as transportation, retailing and wholesaling.
Air Niugini was the naming rights sponsor of the event, which was also supported by the Cocoa Board of Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access program and the World Bank’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project.
The next cocoa warwagira will be in Lae in 2018.
Cocoa show … (this page, clockwise from top left) an Ilugi farmer showing off his cocoa pods at the inaugural Cocoa of Excellence Show; more pods; a PNG flag flying on a cocoa float; winners and organisers at the show; (opposite page) a mouth-watering blend.