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Report gives new hope to Aussie chocoholics

THE Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has released results that will have chocoholics happier this Easter, with report concluding that the production of cocoa is feasible in northern Australia.

RIRDC managing director, Peter O’Brien, said Producing Cocoa in Northern Australia contains the results of an eight year study into the production of cocoa in the northern regions of Western Australia, Queensland the Northern Territory.

“The report found it would be possible to commercially produce good quality Australian-grown cocoa for sale into the world market, dependent on the development and use of available effective post-production technologies,” O’Brien said.

“With demand for cocoa rising internationally by around 3 percent per annum, combined with recent strong prices for cocoa, this report is significant for Australian farmers in northern Australia, particularly north Queensland, who are considering diversifying their operations.”

Best results were achieved in northern Queensland in the Mossman region due to its wet and tropical climate and there have been no major pest or disease problems encountered.

Meanwhile, growing performance at the other trial sites in the Northern Territory and Western Australia was either poor or uneconomic due to a combination of climatic and pest factors.

O’Brien said the economic viability of Australian-based cocoa was also examined as part of the study, and found to depend on a number of key factors, namely good prices and high productivity of harvesting and processing.

“What this report confirms is that growing cocoa in Australia is a commercial reality, particularly given significant risks to world supply and continuing growth in consumption,” he said.

A small cocoa growing industry is developing in northern Queensland, with approximately 35 hectares of plantings established and beginning to come into production.

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