|European Union funding FACT|
|Tuesday, 23 February 2010 10:25|
European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project has engaged with a cocoa exporting company from Honiara, Solomon Islands, to support communities and provide an alternative source of livelihood.
Direct Management Limited (DML) is one of the 14 enterprises the FACT project is supporting. By engaging with this company, the project aims to improve the entire cocoa supply chain in order to benefit the industry as a whole.
The FACT project is managed within the Land Resource Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community with the goal of increasing agricultural and forestry trade within the region and exports from it by ensuring a consistent and quality supply.
Margaret Ilala, DML’s Director, believes FACT’s assistance has been very timely as it has accelerated the company’s plans to move a notch up in cocoa supply and marketing.
‘We are grateful to the FACT project for assisting us in fast tracking the work of DML.’
FACT will assist DML in constructing a shed for cocoa bean storage and will provide technical assistance to DML farmers to improve supply and quality.
FACT production technician Sanfred Smith will be working with farmers that who will be supplying cocoa to DML in improving the field sanitation in order to improve their production.
One of the major tasks currently being undertaken by the FACT team is pruning and maintenance of the existing cocoa plantation to bring back it into production and prevent black pod disease.
Farmers have undergone training on coca field management under a programme known as integrated pest and disease management (IPDM).
David Kebu, one of the farmers, was emotional and believed that such training is a blessing for cocoa farmers of Solomon Islands. ‘I wish that this training had been conducted some 20 years ago when I had more strength in me so that I could have reaped more benefits.’ Previously, David used to harvest only 6–8 good pods per plant as the others were affected with black pod disease, but the scenario is different today.
His cocoa plants are loaded with beautiful cocoa pods and he harvests 35 to 40 good pods per plant.
This translates to more income for David and, as he is a supplier for DML, the supply of dry beans is expected to increase.
Meanwhile, Dr John Konam, former Plant Pathologist with SPC who is now working with the Cocoa Livelihood Improvement Project (CLIP), believes FACT’s engagement with DML has impacted the whole cocoa industry.
‘FACT started IPDM in Honiara and this has really brought about a total paradigm shift in the communities as far as cocoa farming is concerned. ‘Now under CLIP we are taking forward the idea of IPDM to all farmers with the aim of increasing production of quality beans.’
The FACT project aims to promote cocoa as an alternative source of income for farmers as moves are in place to stop the export of round logs by 2012.
The FACT project aims to sustainably increase the quality and range of exports of Pacific agriculture and forestry products, and to contribute to the integration of the 14 Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) into the regional and global economy.
SPC’s 26 member countries and territories include American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, France, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.