By Cyril Gare
The Cocoa Board of PNG (CBPNG) has embarked on a new extensive cocoa tree planting project nationwide that is anticipated to earn more than K60 billion per year upon maturity.
Known as the Cocoa Nursery Project (CNP), this high yield intervention project will see 13 million nurseries buried in the soil of participating LLGS and Districts across PNG in the near future.
CBPNG Chief Executive Officer, Boto Gaupa said the sector was serious about planting more cocoa and increase the country’s yield (export volume) from current 40,000 metric tonnes to reach 310,000 metric tonnes by 2020 as anticipated by the Government.
PNG’s current supply accounts for only one per cent of the world’s cocoa market and brings in some K350 million in export earnings. The industry employs 2.5 million small holder farmers while millions more benefit in the value chain.
Mr. Gaupu said in order to achieve this target, the Cocoa Board has to partner with farmers, people who own land and labour and the ‘start’ of everything in the value chain.
“Because without them, there will be no cocoa, and consequently detrimental to the industry and economy”.
A total of 5,909 farmers were involved, planting 1,053,680 trees so far covering a total land mass of 1,747.66 hectares under this program. There has been a huge increase in total number of seedlings planted in the first quarter of 2017 mainly due to planting figures that has just recently been derived from North Bougainville MOA.
A total of 13 districts have signed MOAs with CB to drive the NCP. Initially there were six districts that signed MOAs to partner with CB in rolling out the CNP in their respective districts.
Mr. Gaupu said additional six more districts have joined and signed MOAs with CB. Kavieng District Development Authority was the latest inclusion and work has commenced on Mussau Island.
The CB acknowledged and thanked the GoPNG for its funding under the Productive Partnership in Agriculture Projects (PPAP) Cocoa Component program as well as support from PHAMA (Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access Program) and other strategic partners in driving the CNP nationwide.
Apart from the partner districts there were also special projects being implemented in other locations like Airara in Ijivitari District, Bulolo, Pomio and Huon Gulf Districts.
A total of 68 main nurseries and 43 satellite nurseries have already been built and operational under the CNP and district MOAs.
It is anticipated that if all 13 CNPs are fully operational and matured, CB will have planted 13 million trees nationwide with additional export earnings for the country through FOB price at K60,480,000.
During the Air Niugini PNG Cocoa Warwagira 2017 ‘Cocoa of Excellence’ festival in Kokopo held between 25-27 May, former Agriculture and Livestock Minister, Assik Tommy Tomscoll had said “agriculture starts from seeds” and wanted to see “heavy investment” in seed cultivation that will replace the current senile tree crops in the agriculture sector.