A coffee cooperative group is planning a major awareness along the Highlands Highway to prevent illegal trading of cherries which is affecting the quality and price of crop grown by genuine smallholder farmers.
AAK Cooperative which has a membership of 1800 coffee households in the highlands is taking this initiative to enforce the cherry trade policy which had been gazetted and announced by Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC). The policy prohibits buying, selling and exporting of cherry coffee in all five highlands provinces.
AAK Cooperative group is a Co-Partner of PNG Coffee Export Ltd operating under CIC’s industry rehabilitation activities being implemented by Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP).
Yesterday the group’s eight directors from Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Jiwaka and Western Highlands met in Goroka and announced to partner the coffee industry regulating organization to get the message down to illegal buyers and traders.
The AAK Cooperative directors behind this major awareness drive are Nicholas Elo (Chairman Apo Cooperative), Ps Kombuk Kensye (Chairman Angra Cooperative), Stanley Konga (Chairman Kange Cooperative), Mark Mara (Director Nebilyer District-WHP), Poti Kumuno (Director Kamtai District-Simbu), Solomon Hane (Remote Rep, Maimafu – EHP), Akoru Irove (Director Kainantu District-EHP) and Program Coordinator Brian Kuglame.
“The cherries are now turning yellow. They will be ready for harvest in few months time and cherry theft is a serious problem in the highlands which is making genuine farmers losing interest to work in their gardens.
“We want to stand at the back of CIC to enforce this policy.
“We want to reinforce this message to all those middle people without licence stealing cherries from hard working growers and selling to buyers and exporters.
“We want to build up momentum with a major radio awareness to get the message to as many people as possible before the road-show.
“Coffee cherry theft is a serious threat to the industry which is affecting quality and production and our effort as hard working farmers.
“We the fathers of our trees want to ensure that our trees are safe.
“We just cannot sit back and see these crooks destroy us and our industry.
“This is why we want to take the initiative to support CIC to warn these thieves and illegal traders.”
The AAK reps have no confirm date to commence the road-show but said to start with a major awareness using provincial radio stations.
AAK Cooperative is also calling on CIC, all coffee producers and exporters and law enforcing agencies to support their campaign.
They said the road-show will be a one-week program starting from Kassam Pass in Eastern Highlands to as far as Jiwaka.
The proposed 20 locations for stop-overs where awareness will be conducted are Akamore Market, Kainantu, Aiyura, Kamandapa, Henganofi station, Dunantina Junction, Goroka town market, Ifiufa market, Asaro station, Mangiro bridge (EHP), Chuave town, Dumun/Mata, Gogmangi (321), Kundiawa town, Mindima, Don Bosco, Ganigle Police Station, Gugbagl market (Simbu), Minj town and Banz (Jiwaka).
In a recent workshop of CIC coffee inspectors in Goroka, it was explained that coffee buyers are linked to a factory where quality is supervised. The transition now has seen the middlemen as freelance coffee traders who buy and sell at their own will with no obligation to anyone. This has contributed to poor quality coffee.
The Goroka Police was also represented and explained on how coffee inspectors can enforce their regulatory guidelines.
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 Agriculture Development) with counter funding from GoPNG.
Directors of AAK Cooperative group.