THE Vice-Minister for Agriculture Jim Simitab said the National Government is committed to assist the PNG Cocoa Board to combat the cocoa pod borer (CPB) in Bougainville.
The vice-minister highlighted this at the opening of the CPB workshop at the Kuri village resort yesterday.
Mr Simitab said the survival of the cocoa industry must be protected at all cost as cocoa was the only major revenue earner for ordinary farmers in the rural areas.
He said since the announcement of CPB in Bougainville, the Prime Minister had been briefed about it .
Mr imitab said he had made a personal pledge to help the farmers and their families in Bougainville who rely entirely on the industry.
He said the people in East New Britain were already facing problems with the effect of CPB in the province.
Mr Simitab said production were likely to decline and many companies would have to shut down due to less production.
Chairman of the Bougainville CPB response unit and Bougainville regional Member Fidelis Semoso said Bougainville cannot survive without cocoa, the only major revenue earner for the region.
He was speaking yesterday at the CPB workshop sponsored by the PNG Cocoa Board.
Mr Semoso said managing the CPB on Bougainville demanded the cooperative and coordinated efforts of all stakeholders in the industry, including Autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government leadership and their agencies.
The cocoa industry on the island is worth K100 million annually.
It is being threatened after the pod borer was detected on the island early this year.