Vanuatu farmer trained by Christian charity among world’s top 50 cocoa makers

Cocoa beans produced by a farmer on the Pacific island of Vanuatu have been named among the world’s top 50, and nominated for an International Cocoa award. The farmer was trained through an economic development programme by the Christian international development charity World Vision.

George Moli, 44, said he was in tears of joy and thanked God when he heard that his beans had been selected by the renowned Cocoa of Excellence Programme, which judged samples from across 40 countries. He now feels empowered to continue labouring to provide for his family.

‘The news created a feeling in me of achieving self-reliance,’ he said. ‘There is no-one else in control. Before I was depend, depend, depend, but now I know I can do it independently.’

Moli had been trained through World Vision’s Sanma Community Economic Development (SCED) project, which helps farmers multiply the quality and quantity of their crops.

‘I’m so proud of the project. It has really changed my mindset and belief in myself,’ Moli said.

‘Last year I pruned 100 cocoa trees in my plantation. This year I have pruned 270 trees and am expecting an even bigger harvest. I have more than doubled the rate of my pruning. This is the effect of the project. This is sustainability.’

Moli’s wife Monique said World Vision’s work and his subsequent success meant their children’s school fees could now be easily paid. ‘Our lives wouldn’t be as they are if it wasn’t for this project,’ she said. ‘Our daily needs are covered by the cocoa income.’

Dr Adam Trau, World Vision’s resilience & livelihoods technical advisor, said Moli was ‘one of the proudest, most respected farmers that World Vision has worked with in Vanuatu. He is a model of sustainability. With knowledge, skills, and market exposure through the SCED project, he has established strong direct links with a buyer for his cocoa, as well as prospective international buyers.’

Moli’s cocoa beans have been turned into chocolate and are now on sale in Vanuatu.World Vision

Trau added: ‘He has set up his plantation as a demonstration and training site for farmers from all around his island. He regularly hosts other farmers to help them learn improved farming and processing techniques, and recently distributed over 200 of his own cocoa seedlings to farmers from his own nursery.’

In September the top 50 cocoa samples, including Moli’s, will be processed into chocolate for a blind taste test by chocolate-making experts. Moli has also been nominated for an International Cocoa Award, the winners of which will be announced in October.