Rural coffee farmers open bank accounts

OVER 300 coffee farmers in rural Simbai LLG area of Middle Ramu District, Madang Province, for the first time open their accounts with Bank South Pacific. 
This is an initiative under coffee rehabilitation work being implemented by Anglican Church of PNG, a Lead Partner of Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) – coffee component. 
“The aim here is to encourage our farmers, especially those who live in the rural areas to save some money from their coffee earnings. 
“As long as their savings accumulate in a bank account, it will excite them to think about buying new things to improve and sustain their lives,” says Potaisa Hombunaka, project manager of PPAP. 
Mr Hombunaka acknowledges the support from Mt Hagen BSP to partner ACPNG and in an effort to encourage more people, especially the unbanked coffee farmers to save for the future. 
Last week three BSP Mt Hagen-based officers; Spycher Nate, Max Balkes and Tommy Kill accompanied CIC-PPAP consultants to Gonas Village after a six hours walk from Bank airstrip, and two days later walked nine hours to Simbai station to open 144 cheque accounts. 
The first visit by BSP staff was in April this year where 167 accounts were opened at Simbai station. A financial literacy training financed by PPAP was also conducted at the same time which attracted 204 participants. 
BSP officer Mr Nate said Simbai has been without banking services for the last 40 years and the interest shown by the people to have an account with BSP was very demanding for them to return. 
“With Anglican Church of PNG and CIC-PPAP bringing BSP to their doorstep to deliver banking service is something new for them. 
“We also talk to them on how banking services work and they feel that BANK is the most safe and secured place to park their hard earn money and can withdraw when the need arises. 
“We also train them on how to use mobile banking. 
“After all necessary information is downloaded, we gave them Kundu cards and account numbers on the spot without the need to feel forms, ” said Mr Nate. 
He added that BSP will also assist to set up an agent at Simbai station to take deposits and withdrawals with EFTPOS devices installed in trade stores. 
The PPAP is a coffee rehabilitation initiative of Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) funded by a loan facility from World Bank IDA (International Development Association) and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) with counter-funding from GoPNG. 

(L-R) BSP Mt Hagen-based officers Max Balkes, Spycher Nate and Tommy Kill opening accounts for coffee farmers at Simbai station.