“The first thing you must ensure when you bring in an investor from abroad is to give him the confidence he needs.
“You must make him happy by working with him and proving your commitment to his company and he also proves that he is serious to work with you the workers, landowners, Province and the Government, to develop Malampa Province and the country.”
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Metenesel Cocoa Project, Howard Aru made the call to landowners and bloc holders of the 500-hectare land agreed to for the development of organic cocoa at Lambumbu during an important visit yesterday.
The visit turned a new page to Metenesel because the Metenesel Board of Directors accompanied the Chief Executive Officer of a French Chocolate Company called Biscochoc who are the first Chocolate makers in New Caledonia, to see firsthand the infrastructure of Metenesel to take over the plantation come January 1 of 2017.
Paramount Chief and one of the signatories of the landowners Robert welcomed the delegation to the site. “It is time for the reality to what we say and what we will do; it is our pleasure to continue creating and building relationships between us families. Welcome, welcome, welcome!”, he said.
The original Lease Agreement for the Metenesel Cocoa Project at Lambumbu was signed at Litzlitz Village in 1983.
Chairman Howard Aru welcomed the CEO of Biscochoc to Metenesel and assured both workers and landowners, “this is a Christmas present for Lambumbu because we have come to make a difference.
“If you wonder what is going to happen after Christmas then we have come to answer that. January 1st 2017 dawns with a new company to take over at Metenesel.
“If there is one board that is going to make a difference at Metensel, it has to be this board. I want to say that Metenesel is your livelihood because we come and go but you live here so Metenesel is your livelihood.”
The Chairman said cocoa is coming back to Metenesel because “today we are bringing you the boss of the company”.
His name is Dominique Lefeivre. His company does not only buy cocoa but they are connected with chocolate as far as France. They are experienced and are also connected with a marketing giant in Europe.
Biscochoc is returning on January 14 to deal with issues involving the present workers. Bloc holders are going to continue working for the company for one more year, to allow the company to assess their performance.
During the period the Chairman is appealing to everyone to work to increase production.
“So it is important that we (workers) prove that we own Metenesel. Our biggest challenge today is to make it work but action speaks louder than words,” he said.
“If you landowners have had your differences since the signing ceremony in 1983, I appeal to you to put them aside and work together for one common objective – development,” he said.
To conclude he said, “The staple food in Ambae is (island) taro. When it rains water collects on the taro leaf. Don’t prick the leaf or the water will escape and there won’t be any to drink”.
Dominique Lefeivre said his company is interested in organic cocoa and Metenesel has organic cocoa.
“We sell our chocolate in Japan, Tahiti, Fiji, NZ and Australia. We also want to sell your chocolate to the same markets but with a different label – organic chocolate.
He said his company partner sells its chocolates in Europe and America and Russia. Now the company is also trading with China.
In other words, if Metenesel can sustain his company and it sets up in Vanuatu at Lambumbu then chocolates made at Lambumbu in Malekula can be exported to Biscochoc’s existing export markets.
Balen Ata of Malampa Province thanked the Government for securing the new agreement.
Metenesel is located in Malampa Province and as such Ata said, “We want to see the living standard of our people go up, we want to see an improvement of our level of education and health to add to the livelihood of our communities.
“I take this opportunity to thank Mr. Howard Aru for this new development.
“I thank the landowners and appeal to you to put aside your internal differences and unite for the development of our Province and country.
“Malampa Province will cooperate with Biscochoc.
“This is also a blessing and gift to us in Malampa at this festive season.”