We are currently completing the acquisition of approx. 12,000 hectares of some of the best cocoa plantation land in the world in Bougainville. Our group is committed to work with local landowners, community and government to rehabilitate these plantations to create an agricultural business that is sustainable both in the community and environmental aspects. Our interest is not just in cocoa but in value adding through leading edge quality to create a world class brand in Bougainville Cocoa and our plantations. We will focus on research and development with an emphasis on high quality chocolate and other cocoa related products such as beverages and health products. We also run a boutique beef operation – paddock to the plate – of high quality Black Angus cross to produce veal for our hospitality business. At our Pullenvale farm we produce organic herbs and fruit for our own restaurants.
Our aim is to develop a sustainable cycle from the farm or plantation to the end customer with a view of optimising the benefits both the company and the community in which we operate. This development with involve research and development both with regards to best agricultural practices, optimum environmental outcomes, and new products based on cocoa and related products such as coconuts. As part of our commitment to the environment and the local community we will produce the energy needs of our plantation operations from supplied hydro electricity and our own biodiesel from coconut oil.
The plantations are owned by Bougainville Islands Group Ltd (BIGL) which has approval from the Investment Promotion Authority of Papua New Guinea (IPA) to operate plantations. The directors of the company are Godfrey Mantle and two local directors Sam Akoitai (a Bougainvillian who was previously the member for Bougainville Central and Mining Minster for PNG), and Simon Nutley of Leahy Lewin Nutley Sullivan Lawyers Port Moresby. Consultants to BIGL are Simon Pentanu a Bougainvillian who was previously a Clerk of the National Parliament and Chief Ombudsman and former Bougainville Administrator and Ian Prentice a former Advisor to Bougainville.
Development of BIGL Cocoa Plantations
The first step in the rehabilitation of the plantations is consultation and agreement with traditional local landowners and the ABG (Autonomous Bougainville Government). This process is being undertaken under the leadership of Peter Tareasi a Bougainvillian. Once this has been completed the rehabilitation will commence with the plantations grouped geographically with each group of plantations being managed as one business unit. A central fermentary and drying unit will process production from each group of plantations.
Local Community Benefits
We are committed to working with traditional landowners and the community to deliver substantial benefits including:
Our estimate is around 4,000 people will be employed direct.
A similar number of jobs will also be created by locally owned businesses supplying the plantations.
Education and training
We will deliver training and field days for our employees and small lot cocoa producers in
improved methods of cocoa production. There will also be training in support roles such as mechanics, accountants, laboratory assistants
We will provide Health Clinics at Plantation Administration Centres for our workers and for local residents at no charge.
We will develop local infrastructure such as internal roads, electricity and small port facilities that will service both our plantations and the local community. We strongly support the Asian Development Bank funded hydro electricity generating plant to be sited in BIGL land on the Ramazon River and the PNG Sustainable hydro plant under way in Central Bougainville. The hydro electricity will bring green energy to our plantations.