The number of coffee extension farmers who are key personnel on the ground to continuously train our growers or farmers on important farming knowledge and skills has reduced over the years.
This is one factor affecting the coffee industry including the livelihood of smallholder farmers. The contribution by coffee as a backbone of the rural economy accounts for 30 per cent of the total labour force.
Approximately 90% of national exports originate in the Highlands (Western Highlands, Jiwaka, Eastern Highlands and Simbu Provinces).
The Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) through its industry rehabilitation effort is working towards returning extension officers to re-connect our farmers or producers who are important stakeholders in the coffee value chain.
The coffee component of the Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) under CIC is rolling our training programs targeting young extension officers working with its Lead Partners.
Towards the end of this month (February), close to 30 coffee extension officers working for Lead Partners of PPAP will gather for a week-long training on essential farming and processing techniques for farmers in Papua New Guinea. Key stakeholders in the agriculture sector will provide experts for various sessions.
The PPAP (coffee) will facilitate the training workshop on 22-26 February at PNG Coffee Research Institute in Aiyura, Eastern Highlands Province.
The purpose of this exercise is to improve and strengthen the capacity of extension officers who are key personnel on the ground to train growers and farmers on improved farming techniques and sustainability issues.
In the past as from 1986 during Coffee Development Agency and then to Extension Service Division of CIC, the industry had adequate pool of coffee extension officers. However the number of extension officers reduced significantly when CIC amalgamated extension with research in 2003.
There are now only two CIC coffee extension officers per province.
Participants for the training will represent some Lead Partners of PPAP like Monpi Coffee, Coffee Connections, Tarebo, NGHCE, CDA Goroka, CDA Gumine, Kosem, Timbuka and PAMSL stretching from Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Jiwaka and Western Highlands.
The training will focus on the important role of an extension officer, understanding coffee varieties (arabica and robusta), coffee rehabilitation involving management of young and old coffee trees and management of nurseries.
The course will also cover harvesting process in wet and dry mill processing, cupping processes, CIC programs, marketing of coffee, certification standards and revised green bean standards.
While many of the participants are expected to be young extension officers or recent graduates from agriculture colleges and universities, the workshop will provide the opportunity for experience officers to share their knowledge and experiences so together we can engage our rural farmers effectively.
PPAP Project Manager Potaisa Hombunaka says the training is important because the big plantations plus CIC that used to provide training for extension officers are gone.
“Therefore it is incumbent on us (CIC) to roll our more extension officers who are important persons on the ground to facilitate rehabilitation of coffee to sustain the industry, including the livelihood of our rural farmers.”
The PPAP is also working on a certification program for extension officers under the coffee rehabilitation project.
The development objective of PPAP is to improve the livelihoods of smallholder coffee producers supported by the project through the improvement of the performance and the sustainability of value chains in coffee producing areas.
The coffee rehabilitation project is being implemented under three (3) components:
• Providing Industry Coordination and Policy Development to improve the performance of sector institutions in the coffee sector;
• Developing Productive Partnerships in the public-private alliances in project areas with the goal of improving productivity and market linkages; and
• Improving Market Access for smallholder coffee growers in the target areas/provinces.
The project is initially being implemented in 2010 in 4 target areas/provinces namely Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Jiwaka and Western Highlands. The rehabilitation work will extend to include other coffee growing provinces as the project has been extended from June 2016 to June 2019 with additional loan financing from World Bank IAD and IFAD.
Extension officers working for PPAP Lead Partner Coffee Connections at their nursery in Purosa, Okapa District, EHP. PPAP is rolling out training of extension officers to re-connect with coffee growers.
Approved for release:
Potaisa H. Hombunaka (Mr.) PROJECT MANAGER