Tomscoll: Cocoa industry has potential

Farming

THE cocoa industry is a promising industry with potential to go big as the cocoa prices continue to rise.
Speaking during the opening of the first Air Niugini Cocoa Warwagira in Kokopo recently, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Tommy Tomscoll said this was due to the declining global supply of cocoa and its increasing demand.
He said there were three main reasons for the continued price increase for cocoa:
1. Climate Change – many cocoa growing countries are beginning to lose suitable land for growing cocoa.
2. Population growth – many countries that used to spare land to grow cocoa are now choosing to cut down the land available for cocoa growing to use for other developments.
3. Consumer behaviour – the Chinese who are traditionally known for drinking tea are beginning to like chocolate and cocoa drinks.
He said the biggest challenge for PNG to succeed and keep cocoa as relevant development in PNG was to maintain quality; to create awareness among farmers on best management practices they should engage in; and to create awareness on the global scene that PNG has the best brand of cocoa in the world.
He said cocoa was a commodity traded all over the world and it was also the livelihood of two million Papua New Guineans.
“Cocoa is the industry that brings to PNG foreign currency between K300- K350 million annually.”
Tomscoll said because cocoa was an industry that brought revenue to the government’s budget and 80 per cent of income to many households, it was a must that everyone strove to ensure this industry was sustainable.
“For this industry to continue to sustain and grow, we must all participate in the industry. It is an industry that we cannot continue to destroy.
“If we bring destruction to the industry, we are bringing destruction to the lives of two million people in PNG and indirectly destroying the economy of this country.”
He said the cocoa industry was not driven by big plantations or foreigners but by small family units.
“About 90 per cent of cocoa is grown, harvested and sold by small families.
“This drives a clear message that if PNG wants to eliminate poverty, cocoa is the best tool that the government can use.”
Tomscoll said poverty was a big issue in Third World countries but countries like Ghana had used cocoa as a driver to alleviate poverty and had succeeded.
He said East New Britain had once a leading cocoa producing province.
“It used to produce 16,000 tonnes per year before the Cocoa Pod Borer attack.
Many of the infrastructures in the province seen today were a result of cocoa and coconutproducts.
“Currently PNG contributes 1 per cent of cocoa to the world market and the challenge is for everyone to work hard to produce more cocoa that can push the volume to 100,000 tonnes or at least 2 per cent.”
He said PNG produced about 40,000 tonnes of cocoa to the world market annually.
“This is the same story for the coconut and coffee industries, which signifies that agriculture is the main supplier to PNG’s economy.

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