Research trip boost for NQ cocoa plans

Chocolate industry in North Queensland to get boost

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YUM: A Queensland researcher will make a trip to Indonesia to learn about cocoa production.

YUM: A Queensland researcher will make a trip to Indonesia to learn about cocoa production.

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Could North Queensland soon be known as a chocolate lover's paradise?

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AUSTRALIA'S chocolate scene is slowly growing, but the state government is hoping an international research trip could help grow North Queensland's cocoa industry.

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries horticulturist, Massimo Bianco, will travel to the MARS Cocoa Research Centre in Indonesia to look at the art of growing, propagating and pollinating cocoa trees.

Agriculture minister, Mark Furner, said the invitation to travel to the centre for training was 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.

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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 1000 hectares could see production reaching 3000 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 and learn about pests and diseases.

"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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