THE coffee berry borer (CBB) pest is “not a joke”, says Potaisa Hombunaka, manager of World Bank and IFAD financed coffee rehabilitation project in Papua New Guinea.
“The incursion is real, it is not a joke. In the next three to five years we will not have an industry if we don’t take this seriously.
“The coffee industry is now living on borrowed time. We must do something about it immediately or we’re gone.”
Mr Hombunaka who is project manager of Coffee Industry Corporation’s rehabilitation program with existing coffee gardens under Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP). He took the whole project staff to see firsthand CBB infested gardens in Asaro District of Eastern Highlands on Friday 14 July.
The CBB team headed by Dr Mark Kenny reported 186 hectares (ha) of infested coffee gardens in Asaro three months ago and they have attended to 18 hectares only with clear pruning and setting up of CBB traps.
The other 178 ha of infested gardens continue to breed the pest where infestation of non-infestation gardens continue.
This is why the coffee rehabilitation project under CIC-PPAP will help with mainly tools and materials for the CBB team to attend quickly to many infested gardens (see separate story).
“Logistic support is vital for us to attend to as many gardens quickly,” says Dr Kenny who is CIC’s General Manager of Research & Growers Service Division (RGSD).
“We want to engage youth groups to cover all affected gardens at the same time to contain the spread. This is what I want to see if there is any urgency in this.
“This time the pests are looking for food. We don’t want to give them much chance to run to another garden.”
The PPAP manager is disappointed that the PNG Government is yet to release K20 million to CIC to combat the CBB pest threat.
Following the announcement of CBB pest incursion in Banz, Jiwaka in February 2017, CBB infestation has been reported also in Eastern Highlands Province with an increased from 16 to more than 70 gardens in Asaro District. The CIC latest updated report added the number of gardens infected in Jiwaka had also increased from 8 to 14.
The total land area of coffee gardens infected with Coffee Berry Borer (CBB) in Eastern Highlands Province is recorded to be 186.7 hectares, and expected to increase when more survey data is made available.
“There is blow-out situation already. What is important is to educate farmers on containment measures like setting up traps to stop further spread of CBB to unaffected gardens,” adds Dr Kenny.
The industry rehabilitation under PPAP is a coffee industry project through the Department of Agriculture & Livestock. It is financed by a loan facility from World Bank (IDA) and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) with counter-funding from PNG Government.
Approved for release:
Potaisa H. Hombunaka (Mr)
PROJECT MANAGER of CIC-PPAP