As high as 15% of the green bean delivered for export has to be re-processed and 15% of it has to be removed because of high content of defects.
Chairman of PNG Coffee Exporters Council John Edwards said this during a week-long workshop for all coffee inspectors and officers under the Industry Regulations and Compliance (IRC) unit of the Coffee Industry Corporation in Goroka last week.
The workshop was facilitated by Ricky Mitio. Mitio, a pioneer administrator of the coffee industry was a career Coffee Inspector before taking over the CEO position from the expatriates in the 1980s.
The workshop aimed at retraining coffee inspectors in their roles and responsibilities as certified inspectors of the coffee industry.
The theme of the workshop was ‘Challenging the status quo’. “We have existing regulatory guidelines which are out dated and this training will focus at revising a lot of the outdated regulatory guidelines for exporters, processing mills, wet factories and manufacturers and bring it up to date, said Mr Mitio.
One of the key problems identified apart from others was the lack of control in the coffee buying sector. Mr Mitio explained that in 1974 Parliament legislated with the introduction of the Coffee Dealing Control Act which enabled nationals to buy coffee and were contracted with licensed factories. Since then, coffee dealing has been a restricted activity of the coffee industry for nationals only.
Coffee buyers were linked to a factory and quality was better 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. “The coffee buying and selling sector has contributed to poor quality coffee,” said Mr Mitio. He further stressed that people are now paying on weight and not quality by unregulated middlemen which is causing a downfall in production and damage to PNG coffee.
It is anticipated that some of the new guidelines to be introduced once approved by the CIC Board and gazetted will include; Registration of Coffee buyers and sellers, the Mini coffee huller, Eco pulpers, guidelines for monitoring certified coffee exports and also licensing the forward freighters in Lae who handle all the green bean coffee exports from PNG.
The Goroka Police Constabulary was part of the workshop and spoke to the team on the prosecution procedures of offenders in the industry. Goroka Police Prosecutor Sergeant Joe Pipi issued instructions on how the coffee inspectors could enforce their regulatory guidelines. An MoU is yet to be formalized by CIC and the PNG Royal Constabulary which will allow training for coffee inspectors to empower them to carry out their work more efficiently as Reserve Police Unit.
The coffee inspectors were challenged to uphold the good and maintain improved governance of the industry, and were reminded not to compromise their positions and get into disrepute by accepting bribes but to be accountable in their conduct to their employer (CIC) and its stakeholders.
Police facilitators and coffee inspectors during the workshop at the Kefamo Catholic Mission outside Goroka with facilitator and former CIC CEO, Ricky Mitio sitting at the far right.