Fairtrade and the Wellington Chocolate Factory are set to launch the limited-edition bar sourced exclusively from a Yangoru cocoa development project in Wewak, located in Papua New Guinea’s northern region of the East Sepik province.
With production limited to fewer than 200 bars, the chocolate is a collaborative farming initiative featuring 529 small-scale farmers growing the cocoa beans and supporting a community of more than 2600 people.
East Sepik governor Allan Bird was full of praise for the success of the cocoa cooperative that was certified in 2020.
“As a leader, I am interested to work in ways to increase (the) household income,” he said.
Like most other small-scale farmers of various crops, the income earned covers school fees for their children.
Virginia Jones, from Fairtrade, an arrangement that is designed to help producers in growing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships, said the release of the bar in New Zealand was to reward the hard work of Papua New Guinean farmers during tough times.
“We want to take people on an adventure for the senses and to transport them to an incredible country that is so close to us, but is yet so different,” she said.
The Yangoru farmers receive a Fairtrade premium for their beans, which is over and above the Fairtrade price.
It goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions.
Gabe Davidson, the co-founder of Wellington Chocolate Factory, had in 2015 travelled to Bougainville by vaka, a traditional boat of the island.
He brought the Papuan beans to Wellington to make into their first bar from the region.
The people that greeted Mr Davidson were “super-friendly,” and he also was fond of the musicians playing traditional music and the dancers that greeted his crew.
“It was quite an emotional experience arriving at Bougainville,” he said.
“The forests and beaches were untouched – and the people were living in harmony with nature.”
He describes the new limited-edition bar as like biting into a chocolate brownie not long out of the oven, delivering a buttery mouthfeel with notes of vanilla and a hint of rum and raisin.
“South Pacific beans and Melanesian cocoa beans do have interesting flavour characteristics, compared to the Forrestero beans on the Ivory Coast and in Ghana, which grow fast and are farmed at pace,” he said.
“Cocoa trees in PNG are often grown alongside other food and shaded by larger trees, including the Canarium Indicum or ‘Galip Nut’ tree, an indigenous tree that produces the most delicious, sweet nuts in the shape of giant almonds.”
Agricultural exports are important to the country’s economy and make up around 25 per cent of its GDP.
But cocoa in PNG has historically been sold on the commodity market at a low price.
With a growing demand for high quality, traceable beans, producers are getting a better price for their cocoa to help the farmers out.
“We are delighted to be working with Fairtrade to deliver a fairer future for farmers, the communities they support and the environment – and continuing our relationship with the people of Papua New Guinea.”