By JUNIOR UKAHA
THE World Bank has assisted a group of farmers in Morobe with K1.9 million worth of equipment, machines and seedlings through a productive partnership in agriculture project (PPAP).
The Agi Agro Cooperative of Zumin in Markham qualified for the programme last year.
Two motorbikes, knapsacks, tools, safety wear, greenhouse nets and cocoa clone seedlings were given to them.
Dr Martin Faure, PPAP coordinator for Mamose, said the assistance include training supply of cocoa driers.
A ceremony was held on Wednesday at the Mutzing Station to announce the assistance.
It was attended by local MP Koni Iguan, deputy governor Waka Daimon, Umi-Atzera president Daki Mao, PNG Cocoa Board manager Anthon Ningi, district administrator John Orebut, Faure, Agmark cocoa field manager Finan Romaso and Morobe election manager Simon Soheke.
Faure said PPAP was introduced in the country in 2014 and came under World Bank’s International Fund for agriculture development programmes.
“The concept has worked well in the New Guinea Islands region and now we are bringing it to the mainland and especially to Morobe,” he said.
“It has supported small-holder cocoa and coffee farmers.
“Agri Agro is the first group in Morobe that has qualified for the assistance.
“We have provided them with tools and seedlings and we will also train them.”
Faure said 595 farmers in the group had to pay K113 each to qualify for the assistance.
He said this was because they wanted to make the farmers take some responsibility of the tools, gear, equipment and seedlings given to them.
“The aim of the project is to improve the living standard of the farmers by putting money back into their pockets,” he said.
Faure said the programme would end in June 2019.
Agi Agro Cooperative director Abraham Joseph said it was not easy for the group when they started 16 years ago.
Faure said many people had criticised them and labelled them as conmen and paper farmers but he was glad that their hardwork had paid off with international organisations like the World Bank recognising them and assisting them.
“What we are doing is not for ourselves,” he said.
“We have all along tried to help our farmers. I thank World Bank for their assistance.
“This time our 595 farmers plan to plant 120,000 clone cocoa plants and increase and improve the yield.”
Joseph appealed to the national and provincial governments to support cocoa farmers in Morobe including his group after the PPAP project ended.
By JUNIOR UKAHA