The Soul Cocoa Plus project helps farmers create sustainable cocoa farming through improved crop production and training in business management. The Solomon Islands is the second-poorest country in the region with challenges such as a narrow productive base, rapid population growth, donor dependency, weak governance, and political instability. The cocoa farms in the Solomon Islands have been poorly managed and are not yielding crops to their full potential and quality. Soul Cocoa Plus educates farmers in necessary skills in crop management techniques such as pruning, grafting, and integrated pest and disease management. Training for farmer cooperatives will take place in the communities to ensure that it is relevant to the specific issues. Soul Cocoa Plus supports the involvement of women and ensures the widest possible distribution of knowledge and grass-roots ownership. Further, the support of building connections between cocoa producers and chocolate makers and engagement with and involvement of buyers of cocoa beans supports the overall sustainability of the project.
Growing up was a difficult time for Blais. He came from a poor family, and his mother died while he was still in school. But Blais says his life changed when he attended training run by ADRA’s Soul Cocoa project. He learnt techniques to improve the process of fermenting and drying cocoa beans, which helped improve the quality of his beans and attract a higher price for his produce.
Blais entered ADRA’s Chocolate Week competition and won third place. After this success, Blaze went back and taught his community the techniques he had learnt and now inspires others through his achievements.
“I don’t want anyone to be left behind – I want everyone to grow and improve together,” Blais says.
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