Joan Grey is a young female cacao farmer in West Ambae who usually purchases green cacao beans from cacao farmers in her community.

Farmer Grey and her husband are engaged in growing cacao over the past 10 years as a source of income.

“At the moment we have 10 cacao plots and still sowing cacao seeds to produce more seedlings for planting to increase our cacao production,” Cacao farmer Grey stated.

“Currently, we are purchasing green cacao beans from other farmers at VT40 per kilo, to assist them with their basic needs as we have hot air drying facilities to dry up cacao beans before shipment to Santo for sale.

“Many cacao farmers are producing green beans but they do not have suitable hot air drying facilities. We usually produce 10 bags of dried cocoa beans.

“We are looking forward to harvest more cacao beans next year 2022 now that most of the cacao trees are bearing fruits.”

Farmer Grey was one of the participants at the recent cacao production training facilitated by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Vanuatu Agriculture Research and Technical Centre, held at Amata village, West Ambae, in September 2021.

“Producing a crop such as cacao is a very easy task for us women, compare to copra,” she said.

“I cannot focus on producing dry beans alone but to produce the end product of cacao which is chocolate.”

The farmer said the training stimulated her interest to produce chocolate in the future.

“It has taught me a lot of important information on how to raise healthy cacao seedlings, how you can well manage your cacao plots, applying pruning and grafting techniques, the process of fermentation to drying of beans and producing chocolate,” she said.

“My husband and I use to plant cacao seeds directly to the field; we do not establish nurseries but the training has assisted us to improve our skills of growing cacao trees.

“I was astonished to see that farmers can produce their own chocolate at their communities, all you need is a chocolate- making machine.

“This will be the first time ever for West Ambae cacao farmers to produce their own chocolate.

“My future plan is to try my best to purchase a chocolate- making machine and a solar with the aim of producing chocolate as a source of income which it will empower me to continue to grow cacao.”