The 2021 Cocoa of Excellence Show will be held in Kundiawa where farmers from Karamui and Gumine will be able to display their product, possibly the cream of the crop
By MALUM NALU
ON Friday, Oct 9, 2020, Prime Minister James Marape made a historical visit to remote Karamui in Chimbu.
He gave K10 million to start work on the long-overdue road linking Karamui-Nomane, a landlocked district with massive, untapped agriculture potential, with the rest of Chimbu.
PM Marape also saw for himself the rich agriculture produce of the district, particularly cocoa, which thrives in this Garden of Eden.
It is truly one of the most amazing places of Papua New Guinea which can help the transformation of the country.
Those in the agriculture sector know that Karamui-Nomane grows the biggest cocoa pods in PNG.
It grows some of the best coffee, spices and peanuts in the country, to name just a few.
However, the problem is that Karamui-Nomane is only accessible by air, which means that it cannot share much of its rich agriculture produce with the rest of PNG and the world.
If it is opened up by road, it has the potential to transform Chimbu, and PNG as a whole, as an agriculture food basket.
This has been said for many years, however, nothing has been done until now.
Fittingly, Kundiawa in Chimbu will host the prestigious PNG Cocoa of Excellence Show from Oct 7-9, 2021, at which the cocoa of Karamui will be on show to the world.
The event was launched in Port Moresby recently by Agriculture and Livestock Minister, John Simon, who also received K1.25 million from Chimbu Governor Michael Dua to stage the event.
The PNG Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) Show 2021 will be the third programme staged so far. The inaugural PNG CoEx was staged in Kokopo, East New Britain in 2017, and the second at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in Lae, Morobe, in 2019.
The programme consists of two components: The PNG Cocoa of Excellence Show and the National Cocoa Sampling and Tasting Competition. The components are staged concurrently.
The purpose of the show is to celebrate PNG’s 90 per cent fine-flavoured cocoa, and to announce and award the winners and participants of the National Cocoa Sampling and Tasting Competition.
The programme is the entry point for PNG cocoa producers to participate in the International Cocoa Awards (ICA), an international event that recognises the quality and exceptional flavours of cocoa varieties produced around the world, as well as the knowhow of those who produce it.
The final stage of the National Cocoa Sampling and Tasting Competition, which is the tasting and sampling (judging), will coincide with the PNG CoEx Show. The purpose of the competition is to select cocoa samples from cocoa cooperative societies, cocoa plantations and/or individual cocoa farmers from around the country to reach a consensus as to which are the best six samples, which will be sent to the ICA.
PNG, as a cocoa-producing country, is obligated by the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) to host such a show and competition as part of its Cocoa of Excellence (CoEx) programme. For this year, both events will be staged concurrently in Kundiawa, Chimbu. The events will be co-hosted with the Chimbu Provincial Administration.
The programme is also a unique opportunity to promote and command higher prices for our farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on cocoa.
Minister Simon, himself a cocoa grower and exporter who knows the industry, says he is very much encouraged by what is happening in Karamui.
“The cocoa pods at Karamui are very big compared to other cocoa-growing provinces and districts on the coast,” he says at the launching.
“This is because of the climate and the land itself.
“When I went up to Karamui with the Prime Minister (last October), we saw this for ourselves, and I was really, really impressed.
“Our only problem with Karamui is accessibility.”
Simon says we can grow PNG through agriculture, and in the case of Karamui, cocoa.
“I have all the confidence (in growing PNG through agriculture),” he says.
“I’d like to say again that when I look around, we have two very important factors which can change the country: Land and labour.
“We have eight million Papua New Guineans so we don’t need to go and import labour from other countries.”
Simon says the Marape Government has introduced price support to encourage more people to go into agriculture, including in remote areas like Karamui.
He is excited that cocoa, a commodity more associated with coastal areas, is now growing very well in areas like Karamui and the Wahgi Valley of Jiwaka.
“We have more than 40 districts growing cocoa in our coastal areas,” Simon adds.
“Production is now increasing, because it’s going up to the highlands, and I’m excited.
“We (PNG) have never reached 100,000 metric tonnes (cocoa production), always being below 50,000 metric tonnes.
“However, we have a lot of land, and we have places like Karamui and Jiwaka who can grow a lot of cocoa.”
Governor Dua, when presenting the K1.25 million to Minister Simon, announces that the road linking Kundiawa to Karamui is close to completion.
That will be a bonanza to Chimbu and PNG as cocoa and the rich agriculture produce of Karamui-Nomane is brought to market.
“We might then have our (Karamui-Nomane) farmers having access to all the good things in Kundiawa,” he says.
Dua says what his government is doing is to help the people of Karamui and the rest of Chimbu prosper through agriculture.
He commends the PNG Cocoa Board for the work it has done to bring up the industry in PNG, including Karamui.
“We (in Chimbu) never knew about cocoa, but somehow it grew very well in Karamui, for which we are all here today,” Dua says.
“I thank the officers in Chimbu for they work they have been doing to promote cocoa growing, and I assure you that we will now take it to the next level.
“I only learned about the cocoa potential of Karamui when I went to the PNG Cocoa of Excellence Show in 2019 in Lae.”
Dua recalls that it was in Lae that he accepted the offer from the PNG Cocoa Board to host the 2021 Cocoa of Excellence Show.
“I made the bold stance to accept the spear and take it up the highlands, where we don’t grow cocoa, only coffee,” he adds.
“I thank the Marape Government for all the support it is giving to agriculture, including price support to our cash crops.
“I am encouraged to see more people in Karamui growing cocoa in response to this.
“Everyone is making good money and running to their cocoa gardens.
“I am very proud to have tasted chocolate and drank hot cocoa made from our Karamui cocoa.”
Dua assured PNG Cocoa Board of its full support as Chimbu prepares to host visitors from all over the country for the October cocoa show.
“We will help to make the cocoa show become a successful event in the Highlands, especially for the Chimbu people,” he says.
“The show will showcase the cocoa of Karamui, however, we want all the people of Chimbu to come and participate.
“If there was a road to Karamui, the show would be held there, however, it is currently only accessible by air.
“We mean business and I can assure PNG Cocoa Board that we are right at the back of you.
“Our PNG cocoa is on the world market, and we must promote it, and bring it to the next level.
“We in Chimbu can see that our future is in the southern corner of the province where Karamui is.”
Further information on the PNG Cocoa of Excellence Show can be obtained from Adam Mera of the PNG Cocoa Board on phone and WhatsApp 70941973.
- Malum Nalu works with the Office of the Prime Minister