By Gary Hatigeva
A joint partnership consisting of local and international corporations into the enhancement and development of the Cocoa Industry in Solomon Islands has launched a festival, which looks to showcase the country’s unique flavours and delicious chocolate products.
Known as the SolChoc festival, the event comes as part of a collaboration between organisers Strongim Bisnis with the national government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA), the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), the Pacific and Horticultural Market Access Program (PHAMA), the Rural Development Program (RDP) and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
The Solomon Islands Cocoa and Chocolate Festival (SolChoc) according to organisers, is an annual festival that comes with fun and festivity, and was established to support the local cocoa sector, through its promotions and marketing.
Organisers in a joint statement explained that the cocoa sector is one of three sectors Strongim Bisnis supports as part of efforts by the Australian Government to help Solomon Islands with its economic development and prosperity.
“This is the first year a program of public events will be offered alongside the annual cocoa competition which is very exciting,” SolChoc spokesperson and Strongim Bisnis Coconut Business Advisor, Brown Onahekeni said.
Also featured in the joint statement, CEMA’s Chief Produce Inspector, Patterson Siliota further explained that the one-week SolChoc Festival will showcase Solomon Islands cocoa to boutique and fine flavour chocolate-makers and cocoa and bulk buyers from the United Kingdom and the region.
Meanwhile, SolChoc organisers outlined that the festival will be held in Honiara from April 30 to May 5 with industry specific events in the first half of the week and events for the public held from May 3 – 6.
Organisers added that in between the course of the SolChoc festival, sideline events will also be organised with an aim to raise small funds for the initiative.
The sideline events includes an interactive Chocolate Tasting that happens on May 3, 2018, where those interested will get the chance to taste the best chocolate the Solomon Islands has to offer.
“Come and hear a master chocolatier talk through the wonderful intricacies of judging the best chocolate and listen to how our homegrown cocoa experts get judged as the nation’s best,” organisers explained.
Also comes as part of the sideline events, a Masquerade Cocktail Party (Fundraiser) will also happen, just a day after, where those interested will join an evening of fun and festivities including entertainment, canapes, cocktails, dancing and a live auction.
“Tickets for this particular side event is $600 per person”.
The other two side events includes a Fair for all family, which takes place on the 5th, and a Silver Screen Chocolate Cinema, happening on the 6th.
The Fair according to organisers, looks to have specialty chocolate and chocolate-themed foods, cocoa-themed beauty products, a live cooking demonstration, kids entertainment and a cocoa industry technology showcase.
While on the Silver Screen, organisers are encouraging families to bring their children to be part of a double feature at the Coral Sea Cinema, with films that also feature chocolates.
“Bring the kids along to see the family favourite film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and back it up with the French-village set, romantic, comedy-drama, Chocolate.
“See one or both! Enjoy your movie marathon with a special chocolate cinema snack menu or chocolate cocktail and dessert special from the Coral Sea’s special SolChoc week menu,” the group further explained.
Meanwhile, the joint initiative through their statement revealed that all profits from the events will be channelled back into supporting local farmers and the cocoa sector, which is showing increasing economic promise with more than 22 percent of rural households involved in cocoa in the country and a rising global demand for chocolate.
The partnership make up includes, Strongim Bisnis, funded by the Australian Government, is collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA), the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), the Pacific and Horticultural Market Access Program (PHAMA), the Rural Development Program (RDP) and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and it is all thanks to them for bringing SolChoc to Honiara.