Farmers call for ‘standard’ driers

Participants at the second Cocoa Act & Regulation External Stakeholders Consultative Workshop held at the Huon Gulf hotel in Lae recently. Insert (right) – ESP cocoa farmer, Mr. Sperian Kapia. Insert (left) – some of the cocoa exporters. Pics by CYRIL GARE.

By CYRIL GARE

There is a need for the Cocoa Board of PNG (CBPNG) to enact and regulate standardised cocoa drier kits in the country.

According to an East Sepik teacher-cum cocoa farmer, Sperian Kapia several methods of drying cocoa are being implemented in the country currently and that not only were causing confusions among farmers but also opens the flood gate for cocoa quality to be compromised.

Mr Kapia represented the Mupa Cocoa farm of Saparu Kausimbi village in the Yuat LLG of Angoram district in East Sepik at the second External Stakeholders Consultative Workshop held at the Huon Gulf hotel in Lae recently where the obsolete Cocoa Act of 1981 and Cocoa Regulations 1982 were been post mortem.

“Any innovations or ideas that come into the industry to add value have to go through the Board then to research labs where it must be tested, approved and recommended by the Board for implementation after it fits with and to PNG conditions.

“There must be no short cuts,” said Mr Kapia.

Several cocoa drying methods are currently being used in the country comprising conventional driers, solar driers, sun drying, and most recently double combination driers.

Reuben Yapi, who chairs both the Labuta Cocoa Cooperative Society and the Morobe Primary Producers Cooperative Association Ltd agreed that CBPNG should declare and enact for a standardised method and kit for drying cocoa in the country.

CBPNG Director Research, Jeffrey Marfu said the Cocoa Board was “not shying away” but admitted “our problem is smoke taint…it is a shared problem between farmers and Cocoa Board which we must work together to address it.

“One way to address the problem is to approve only certified smoke-free cocoa for exports because if not, eventually we will lose the market,” Mr Marfu said.

PNG exports some 40,000 metric tonnes of cocoa annually, 10 per cent of it suffers from “smoke taint”, a problem which the CBPNG and the industry were doing their best in addressing over time.

The country however enjoys a 90 per cent fine flavour status of its cocoa in the world’s niche and specialty markets.

The first review of the Cocoa Act and Regulation was held also in Lae on Mar 22 at the Phils Hotel.

“Like most other legislations in the country, the Cocoa Act 1981 and the Cocoa Regulations 1982 are 38 years old, they are obsolete and out of time.

“This is the second stakeholders consultative workshop where selected growers from around the country, cocoa exporters, industry players and stakeholders gathered and ‘post mortem’ the cocoa legislations to come up with changes relevant to this time and age. It’s timely and fitting.

“The Cocoa Board is satisfied that it has got the feedback from the industry on the proposed changes,” said CBPNG Chief Executive Officer, Boto Gaupu.

So far, 25 proposed amendments have been identified for change in the Cocoa Act which among others include;

  • composition of the Board of Directors to increase and extend to have representatives from cocoa exporters and manufacturers in the board;
  • creation of a Research and Development (R&D) unit in the operational structure of CBPNG;
  • field extension services staff positions need to be created;
  • CEO’s role, powers and limitations to be sufficiently made clear and specific; and other such changes.

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