If you ask a farmer in the flying zones about the struggles they continue to face, you will hear similar stories of people carrying loads of coffee bags and walking days to the nearest airstrip to fly them out.
A coffee cooperative group in Middle Ramu of Madang Province is one such group who has received assistance of K50, 000 under the Government’s Coffee Price Support program. Anan Coffee Cooperative is among 16 other coffee groups who have received this support. The assistance will enable them to purchase parchment coffee and airfreight coffee bags from Simbai or Dusin Airstrip to the market.
The assistance given is part of the K10 million-price subsidy by the National Government to the Coffee Industry Corporation Ltd (CICL) to roll out the price support program.
Acting Chief Executive Officer Charles Dambui said the K10m received was further divided with K8m for price incentive and K2 m for intervention support.
Under price incentive, selected licensed operators were given the funding to purchase class one parchment coffee and class one standard cherry only at their factory doors. The intention is to elevate the quality of PNG coffee and the message of quality trickles back to the coffee farmers.
For the intervention support, selected coffee cooperative groups were given funds to set up wet mills, nurseries, purchase coffee especially for remote areas and support with tools and materials to enhance coffee production.
Anan cooperative chairman Jerry Amagen said people in the remote areas continued to suffer and neglected their coffee gardens as they saw no way of bringing their coffee out.
He recalled in 2019 and 2020 when there were no flights into their area, 920 bags were left to deteriorate at the makeshift storage houses due to transportation delays. Amagen said when there were no flights into their area, they had no choice but to leave to bags to rot, burn them or sell for less to local buyers as they needed the money for basic needs. He said local buyers usually buy parchment coffee at K2 for a kilogram during coffee season and during off-season, they purchase between K1.50 and K1.80.
“The problem we currently have now is the planes cannot bring all the coffee out as they have their capacity limit. He said the Missionary Aviation Fellowship’s Cessna Caravan aircraft could carry only 16 bags (800 kg) at one time. In addition to that, current air freight cost is about K4,500 and the current airstrip we use at Dusin needs another 200 meters extension to enable other aircrafts like Hevilift to land there,” Amagen said.
He acknowledged the support of the government through CIC’s freight program and the intervention support, that will assist them purchase farmers’ coffee and airfreight them to the markets