By CLARISSA MOI
COMMUNITIES along the Hiritano Highway in Central will be growing and selling cocoa to Paradise Foods Ltd for its Queen Emma chocolate factory by end of 2022.
Paradise Foods Ltd group chief executive James Rice said ingredients for its products came from local farmers around the country and they were pleased to have locals from the Kairuku-Hiri, especially villages from Brown River to Vanapa supply them with cocoa.
“Having more local farmers supplying cocoa for Queen Emma is a big challenge for us,” Rice said.
“We want to grow the business and we need more farmers to produce and provide local (cocoa) beans.
“So we are looking forward for quality cocoa beans coming from you all.”
Rice said the company currently bought 10 tonnes of cocoa from 2,000 local farmers across the country every month for the Queen Emma chocolate factory.
He added that engaging the communities along Hiritano Highway would benefit about 10,000 people and this would mean providing direct employment to locals.
Vanapa village community leader Emmanuel Ume said the villages had fertile land and were willing to go into cash crop farming, however, direct market access was one of the major challenges they faced. Ume said a lack of adequate Government support was another challenge.
He said now that they had the market, locals would start planting and selling cocoa to Paradise Foods Ltd.
Meanwhile, project facilitator Charlie Gilichibi said the Hiritano Highway communities had the land and labour but lacked capital and entrepreneurship.
“I am providing social entrepreneurship to engage the communities and bring all the actors together so we can achieve outcomes that will benefit thousands of people including women and children,” he said.
“My goal is to provide the entrepreneurial leadership so that in five to 10 years’ time, the communities are generating upward of K30 million annually from a minimum production of 10,000 metric tonnes of cocoa,” Gilichibi said.
By CLARISSA MOI