“The government is so concerned about the mineral sector and has relegated agriculture to the back burner”
FARMER: COCOA NOT GETTING ATTENTION
Post-Courier | Ishmael Palipal
COCOA was introduced in Papua New Guinea even before coffee was introduced to the Highlands of PNG but it did not get the help and attention it deserves, a Bougainvillean cocoa grower says.
Simeon Karena, once a subsistence farmer of Doreinang area in the South Nasioi Constituency of Kieta District, expressed his concern that cocoa had not made the locals become wealthy as opposed to coffee in the Highlands.
“Coffee has downstream processing centres at the local level but for cocoa, I’m still waiting for that quality chocolate to be processed here in the region but no such improvements have been made to help local cocoa farmers process cocoa right at home,” Mr Karena said.
Mr Karena said farmers in the New Guinea islands must improve their cocoa beans and produce chocolate or other products in the region.
“Since the cocoa had been introduced to Bougainville, there is no millionaire in the cocoa industry, the local farmers are just sweating their guts making money for other big companies like Agmark, Monpi and others,” said Mr Karena. “We have been working for our bread and butter with no such improvements to date.
“I want to challenge leaders to put in some strategic plans to revive that quality of cocoa Bougainville had seen and produced before the conflict and make it possible for processing to happen in the region rather than selling our dried cocoa beans.”
He called for the revival of that Bougainville flavour which was once one of the top cocoa flavours in the world market. Mr Karena said the government is so concerned about the mineral sector and has relegated agriculture to the back burner.
Mr Karena said the blame must be squarely labeled at the government’s failure because since the end of the Bougainville crisis, the government had no resource people such as the agriculture extension officers working with local farmers.
“In the past the government had such officers who helped the local farmers to produce high quality cocoa beans and farming products. “Now we have a drop in prices of cocoa. Doesn’t the Government have control over that?” asked Mr Karena.
He said the government is here for such downfalls but it is not doing what it should to help farmers. Increase in price will motivate the local farmers and that’s what I have seen, he said. He said mineral wealth will not be the future of PNG and called once again for a shift in government policy.