Coffee needs help to survive the borer

Editorial

PAPUA New Guinea is one of the 60 coffee-producing countries and it accounts for 1.1 per cent of world exports.
That, however, could be short-lived if concerned authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the coffee berry borer (CBB) pest that is not showing mercy to anyone.
Put plainly, the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) needs money to contain the pest and rehabilitate what has been destroyed.
The CIC provides statutory oversight of the industry, as well as research and grower support.
It is also empowered to buy and sell coffee.
A team who visited coffee gardens in Asaro in Eastern Highlands earlier this month reported that of the 186 hectares infested coffee gardens from three months ago, they have attended to a merely 18 hectares with only clear pruning and setting up of CBB traps.
The other 178ha of infested gardens continue to breed the pest where infestation of non-infestation gardens continue.
This is why the coffee rehabilitation project under CIC-PPAP (Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project) needs tools and materials for the team to attend quickly to the many infested gardens.
The team needs logistic support to attend to as many gardens quickly.
And the Government is yet to release the K20 million it promised CIC to combat the threat.
Following the announcement of CBB pest incursion in Banz, Jiwaka, in February 2017, CBB infestation has been reported also in Eastern Highlands with an increase from 16 to more than 70 gardens in the Asaro district.
The CIC’s latest updated said the number of gardens infected in Jiwaka had increased from 8-14.
The total land area of coffee gardens infected with CBB in Eastern Highlands is recorded to be 186.7ha, and expected to increase when more survey data is available.
There are about 64,000ha under coffee across 14 of Papua New Guinea’s provinces, most are managed by smallholders.
It is estimated that 2.5 million Papua New Guineans rely on coffee as their main source of income.
Papua New Guinea produces roughly one million bags of green coffee beans annually (annual world production is currently about 125 million bags).
It exported coffee to 29 countries in 2006, with the major coffee markets being Germany, the United States, Japan and Australia.
Papua New Guinea’s slightly fruity beans attract a reasonable price, typically slightly below the price for Columbian coffee.
Two varieties are grown: robusta in the coastal areas and arabica in the Highlands.
Coffee is a big foreign exchange earner for Papua New Guinea, and most of it is grown in the Eastern Highland, the Western Highlands and Chimbu.
There are approximately 2.5 million people employed in the industry.
With 280,000 smallholder coffee growers, 660 larger farmers cultivating areas of 1–30ha, 65 large plantations, 18 registered exporters, 51 registered processors and over 6000 roadside buyers.
The incursion is real.
Papua New Guinea will not have a coffee industry if the CBB is not taken seriously.
The coffee industry is now living on borrowed time.
Something must done now or this industry will be gone.

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