SROS Supports Farmers to Produce Well Fermented, Quality Cocoa Beans under ACIAR Project

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Savaii cocoa farmers benefited from a local cocoa fermentation competition run by the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) as implementing partner for the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR).

Farmers from the districts of Vaisigano 1 and 2, Falealupo, Alatuaia i Sisifo and Salega East participated in the first round of the regional project competition that trialed the use of shallow trays compared to the more conventional deep boxes for fermentation.

“The shallow trays are promoted by other cocoa producing countries as being more efficient and produce better quality fermented beans,” confirm SROS.

The competition encouraged farmers to assess bean quality, and link to buyers for niche markets so Samoan cocoa is able to compete in the high-value, low-volume markets based on fine flavor and ‘single origin’ branding.

The one month long competition started with the registration and survey of farmers in the area before a seminar was hosted to share information on findings from fermentation studies within the region. The purpose and significance of the competition for producing quality beans and the conditions for participation were also explained.

Based on the survey information, farmers were divided to compete in two categories, one group to use boxes and the other trays. Three weeks was then allowed for farmers to work on their fermentation and drying trials before the selection of their samples for collection by the Food Science & Technology team for quality assessment and evaluation in the laboratory at Nafanua.

“The results for quality assessment alone based on fermentation was excellent for most of the competing farmers, and those who did exceptionally well (>90%) were the winners of the top three prizes for each category;

“One farmer, Mr Vilo Gese, achieved the 100% well fermented beans from the cut test and was awarded the special prize”.

All participating farmers were gifted with the fermenting box or trays they used for the competition, harvesting hooks, tarpaulins, rakes and storage bins; being the essential equipment needed for cocoa farmers to efficiently implement proper fermentation and drying processes to ensure quality beans are produced for the export market.

Two more competitions are being planned for Upolu and other districts in Savaii to ensure most of the eligible cocoa farmers benefit from this program and at the same increase the number of suppliers of well fermented, quality cocoa beans from Samoa. All exporters and buyers of cocoa beans are also automatic beneficiaries, guaranteed quality raw material for their products under this project.

Winners:

Box Fermentation Category

1st Winner – Toaga Taua, Falealupo-Tai
Prizes – $300 cash,1 fermenting box, 2 harvesting hooks,
2 storage bins, 2 tarpoulins, 1 rake, 1 taro whiskey

2nd Winner – Tigaina Iakopo, Asau
$200 cash plus all of above

3rd Winner – Tauai Afereti – Papa, Sataua
$100 cash plus all of above

Tray Fermentation Category

1st Winner – Matamea Faapio, Auala
$300 cash, fermenting trays, 2 harvesting hooks,
2 storage bins, 2 tarpoulins, 1 rake, 1 taro whiskey

2nd Winner – Lava Noa, Papa Sataua
$200 cash plus all of above

3rd Winner – Sagele Sefo – Falealupo-Tai
$100 cash plus all of above

Special Prize for 100% fermentation results:

Vilo Gese – $100cash prize