GOVT WANTS INCREASED COFFEE PRODUCTION

With the Marape-Steven government’s focus on taking back PNG through agriculture, it wants to see an increase in coffee production in the near future.
Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Hon. John Simon told the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) during a recent visit to Goroka that the government wanted to see an increase in coffee production by at least by 20-30 percent this year and sustained increase in subsequent years.
Hon. John Simon was accompanied by Hon. Pogio Ghate, Vice Minister for Agriculture and Livestock (Coffee), Secretary of Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Mr Daniel Kombuk, and a representative from the Prime Minister’s Office, Malum Nalu.
Minister Simon said that the industry needed the right intervention to get things back on track that will trigger investment to increase production from its current 56,000 tonnes to 120,000 tonnes or more.
He said during these trying times, the agriculture sector could turn the economy around through exportable commodities. He said that close to K100 million each is required to increase coffee and cocoa production. This must be captured in the Covid-19 package to assist short to medium inter terms intervention strategies such as rehabilitation exercises and/or providing incentives for farmers in this critical time to increase coffee and cocoa production.
CIC Chief Executive Officer Charles Dambui said the industry needed active coffee producers to increase production among other obvious setbacks. “Our biggest challenge is to get the productive population into active coffee farming and create attractive incentive packages for them to fully participate and contribute towards increasing production.”
Dambui added that all exportable crops would generate new income into the country’s economy. He thanked Minister Simon for choosing coffee and cocoa under the stimulus package.
In terms of rehabilitation, Dambui said with the Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Projects (PPAP) modality, this is the way forward for rehabilitation of rundown plantations. Under this modality, plantations are sub divided and given back to surrounding communities or landowners to manage. Labour and security costs are better managed with the respective holders under this type of arrangement. “That is the modality we’d like to drive going forward,” Dambui said.
PPAP Program Manager Potaisa Hombunaka said what needs to be done is to understand the real needs of the farmers before any implementation work could begin. He said planning requires understanding the needs and willingness of farmers before implementation of any project can come into effect.
“We must focus on what the farmers want. One of the immediate things our farmers want are coffee pulpers. When famers have coffee pulpers they can meaningfully engage in rehabilitation exercises,” Hombunaka said.
He said many farmers away from road links need better roads to transport their produce to the markets.
Hombunaka urged the Minister that if he secures funding, he must ensure coffee pulpers are purchased and supplied to coffee farmers who need them at a subsidised price.
He said that another area that needs support is the coffee/ cocoa economic roads. Roads are important as they bring the famers’ produce to the markets.
He stressed that farmers are simple people that need very simple interventions. “Let us sleep, eat and talk with them and address their needs then they will address the government’s needs.”