The Hutjena Oval in Buka will come alive tomorrow the 26th of September, through to the 28th of September, with the annual 2023 Bougainville Chocolate Festival; a three-day show that is expected to be bigger and better and the largest show since the inaugural festival in 2016.
This year’s Chocolate Festival will run under the banner and theme of ‘Innovation & Information Sharing to Empower Farmers.
There will be activities and a showcase of innovative ideas, knowledge, and information, through the festival’s demonstrations, competitions, and seminar presentations.
ABG Minister for Primary Industries, Geraldine Paul, said the festival is an opportunity to celebrate Bougainville’s cocoa production which is over the last few years, has increased, making Bougainville the biggest producer of cocoa in PNG.
The growth in production has stimulated economic opportunities across the coca value chain from household farmers to traders and exporters.
“I am pleased that the festival has delivered wider economic benefits for Bougainville at their critical juncture where the ABG is challenged to grow its internal revenue. I commanded the support provided by our key partners for Australia and New Zealand governments in financing the festival.”
Minister Paul said the festival supports the Toroama-Nisira Government’s sex-point Strategy, including Economic Growth and Control through the implementation and awareness of the Bougainville Commodities Act 2022 and the Bougainville Cocoa Regulation 2022.
Minister Paul announced that the Bougainville Chocolate Festival will be gazette as an annual event in the ABG calendar, with plans to expand the festival into an agriculture fair.
More than 5000 farmers across Bougainville will have the opportunity to participate in forums that promote improved industry processes and standards to drive higher quality and quantities of coca.
A festival highlight is the chocolate competition where international chocolatiers judge, classify and showcase local Bougainvillean award-winning cocoa beans.
The local award-winning beans are then entered into the bi-annual Cocoa of Excellence Awards, the most prestigious global cacao competition that recognizes the work of cacao farmers and celebrates the quality and flavour diversity of cacao produced around the world.
Judged by international cocoa and chocolate industry leaders, the most recent 2021 awards honoured one Bougainvillea farmers with the prestigious Gold Standard Award in Paris, demonstrating the quality of Bougainvillea cocoa to the world.
The Bougainville Chocolate Festival was launched in 2016 and is part of Australian and New Zealand government support to a range of economic development initiatives in Bougainville, including the recent K2.2 million Bougainville Agriculture Commodities Regulatory Authority (BACRA) Office & Laboratory for use by the ABG Department of Primary Industries.