Moli, 44, a father of four, spent years producing copra, the dried kernel of the coconut used to extract coconut oil, with little success. There never seemed to be enough to support his family.
Moli and his family live on the remote Malo Island, an hour’s boat trip from Vanuatu’s second largest town, Luganville.
Recently World Vision started partnering with farmers on Malo Island to improve the quality and quantity of the crops through trainings and connecting farmers with new markets. In March last year, Moli joined one of the trainings:
“Since the training, I have gone through one [cocoa] production cycle and my income has already increased from AUD$168 [for one harvest cycle], to AUD$841 [for one harvest cycle] after applying the different farming methods learned from the training.”
Moli is achieving such great things with his crop that his cocoa caught the attention of Sandrine Wallez, the Director of Alternative Communities Trade in Vanuatu Assoication (ACTIV) and Aelan Chocolate Makers.
Moli carefully drying beans using the solar dryer.
“ACTIV supports farmers from different islands in Vanuatu and will continue to motivate them. Moli’s cocoa beans are great, and we decided to turn them into chocolate,” Says Sandrine
“Moli put a lot of effort into his cocoa production and produced quality beans, so we decided to purchase his cocoa,” she added.
Now his Moli’s cocoa is turned into single-origin chocolate that sits on the shops shelves in Port Vila, the capital city.
Sandrine Wallez, the Director of ACTIV and Aelan Chocolate Makers, holding the chocolate produced using Moli's cocoa beans.
The quality of Moli’s cocoa beans led Sandrine to enter it into the Cocoa of Excellence 2017 competition in France. The Cocoa of Excellence Programme recognises and rewards cocoa with exceptional and unique flavours, while bringing know-how, cocoa evaluation tools, market opportunities and incentives for safeguarding cocoa diversity for farming communities and national organisations globally.
Moli is very excited his cocoa has been entered into an international competition. “When I heard the news, I was full of emotion and speechless for a very long time. I am an optimist and it will be great for Vanuatu if my beans win.”
Moli takes the production of quality cocoa seriously. He shared, “I remembered one day when harvesting cocoa, I threw away cocoa beans that had been eaten or scratched a bit by rats, and my neighbours thought I was crazy and just throwing money away but I stood firm. I followed the training I had received to only produce quality beans.”
Sai Silas, the community chief, who is also the chairman of the organic copra and cocoa committee on Malo Island, said Moli has inspired others in the community to plant cocoa.
“Moli shares what he has learnt from the project with everyone who has shown an interest in cocoa farming,”
For Moli’s wife, Monique, the cocoa income has transformed their lives;
“I had no problem paying school fees of AUD$457 for each of my two eldest children in secondary schools for the first semester, and the semesters to come. Our lives wouldn’t be as they are if it wasn’t for this project.”