Call to probe coffee prices

National, Normal

The National – Monday, June 20, 2011

HIGHLANDS Farmers and Settlers Association vice-president Jonah Buka has called on the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) to investigate the of parchment coffee pricing.
He said something had to be done “before the coffee industry collapses”.
Buka said last week that small holders accounted for more than 50% of coffee production and were the ones “who get their hands dirty to bring the coffee to the market only to be ripped off by greedy middlemen and their agents with defective scales.”
He said PNG was enjoying a bumper coffee season coupled with relatively higher world market prices because of increased demand, adding that the maximum price for coffee paid last month was K7.60 but that had dropped to K5.
“This is not due to decrease in demand for PNG coffee, but speculation (of fear of price drop) which was being forced by small coffee growers flooding the markets with their produce.
“In the process, some of these small growers are overlooking prudent coffee processing methods such as proper sun drying practices,” Buka said.
He said corporation “is mandated by an Act of Parliament to regulate the coffee industry and has a responsibility to small holders by ensuring that their rights are protected by benefiting from higher prices due to market forces in the world market”.
He called on CIC to legislate laws to remove coffee parchment buyers (middlemen and their agents) in the towns (Kainantu, Goroka, Kundiawa and Mt Hagen).
He said the middlemen “are contributing to traffic congestion and increase in theft, petty crimes and lawlessness”.
Buka said parchment coffee should be sold only at factory sites or appropriate places approved by the corporation and not on roadsides.
He said the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission should enter the fray to help the corporation investigate the pricing scheme imposed by middlemen.
He also called on provincial authorities such as the Goroka urban LG and town authority, police and the Eastern Highlands government to clear coffee-buying in Goroka town to free traffic flow.