Agiru urges people to farm coffee

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, February 1, 2011

THE Hela area in Southern Highlands is better known for its hydrocarbon resources then its agricultural output.
There is, however, a public policy on agriculture that seemed, until last Saturday, a secret.
On Saturday Hela’s first K7 million coffee factory was opened by Southern Highlands Governor and Hela leader, Anderson Agiru, at Wabia in the Komo-Margarima district.
At the opening, Agiru told every Hela man and woman to plant and own trees.
“Our policy is for every Hela man and woman to own 1,000 coffee trees.
“We cannot just bank our future on oil or gas. LNG revenues will be used to drive our agricultural resources. If there are periods of low prices, we can use LNG revenue to provide price stabilisation for our agricultural crops. We must do that because when the oil and gas wells are dried up our land will remain and that is the real source of our strength.”
The coffee factory will serve, for the time being, all the coffee produced in the area. Presently, coffee is sold to Western Highlands and Eastern Highlands buyers.
“In the future, market will not be a problem so I expect every family to implement the policy to own coffee trees.
“Every coffee tree produces K10 in a year. If a person owns 1,000 trees that is K10,000 a year; that type of money you do not have now.”
Agiru wants to develop a small holder base when coffee is grown organically for special packing and sale to niche markets for quality organic coffee around the world.
In time, Agiru said, he would build more coffee factories in as many districts in the Southern Highlands and Hela people particularly were urged to take up the challenge to grow coffee.
The Hela Coffee Factory will be built by Nationwide Construction which won the tender.
The factory is funded jointly by the national government and the Southern Highlands government.