Ken Patovaki from Western Province has scooped the first prize in the 2017 Solomon Islands Cocoa and Chocolate week. He won $10,000 and international recognition for his cocoa products.
Patovaki finished top of 96 other farmers across the country that participated in the competition. Western and Guadalcanal farmers dominated the top ten placements.
The Cocoa and Chocolate week ended today with judges, all from abroad, picked Patovaki ahead of nine finalists who made the top 10.
One of the judges Michelle Morgan, the owner of the Zokoko Artisan Chocolate of Australia, said the entries were competitive and they found it very tough to pick the winner.
Speaking to SBM Patovaki said he was surprise to finish at the top.
“I did not expect to win. I am so happy to win the competition,” said the farmer from Pasipasikato Village in Vella.
However he said the victory now enables him to expand his one hector farm.
“I dropped out of school and turned to cocoa as a saver,” he said.
The Cocoa and Chocolate week brought together farmers throughout the country to showcase their products in front of international buyers of cocoa and chocolate factory owners.
The overseas guests came from Australia, New Zealand, U.S and Europe.
Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Agriculture and Jimmy Saelea said that cocoa is not only an important agricultural project but the lifeline of many rural Solomon Islands as it is a source of employment.
Finishing second after Patovaki is Philistus Rosali of Guadalcanal and Cathliro Cocoa of Tenaru. In forth position is Maxwell Qila also of Western Province whilst Silverio Site also of Guadalcanal completes the top five.