A trip and a half to grow Queensland’s chocolate industry

There’s nothing like sinking your teeth into a Queensland-grown mango or pineapple, but soon you could be savouring more of the velvety goodness of home-grown chocolate.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said a Queensland horticulturalist and member of the cocoa research team based at the Centre for Wet Tropic Agriculture has been invited to Indonesia to learn more about cocoa production in order to help grow the industry in Queensland.

“Department of Agriculture and Fisheries horticulturist Massimo Bianco’s trip to the MARS Cocoa Research Centre this month will look at the art of growing, propagating and pollinating cocoa trees,” Mr Furner said.

“Indonesia is the world’s third largest producer of cocoa and the centre provides innovative research.

“An invitation to travel to the centre for training with their scientists is a reflection of the high-quality approach to cocoa production being pioneered by the Department as part of the growth of the developing industry in North Queensland.”

Mr Furner said the research would support the development of Queensland’s emerging cocoa industry.

“Producers are located along the wet tropical coast from the Daintree region to south of Tully, mainly around the towns of Mossman and Innisfail,” he said.

“They currently produce cocoa for boutique chocolatiers, but expansion of the industry to 1,000 hectares could see production reaching 3,000 tonnes of dried bean valued in excess of $30 million in the next decade.”

In Indonesia, Mr Bianco will visit local cocoa farms to observe growing methods and production systems on varied soil types and draining situations.

“He’ll also see first-hand the pests and diseases currently not found in Australia to gain a better understanding of control methods for these problems,” Mr Furner said.

“This is another demonstration that we are investing in innovation so Queensland farmers can be the best in the world.”

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