Cocoa board urges farmers to grow more trees

Islands, Normal

The National, Tuesday December 17th, 2013

 FARMERS have been urged to grow more cocoa trees to meet a short supply of a million tonnes of cocoa in 2020.

Cocoa Board of PNG regional manager for islands and Southern regions Charles Koel told farmers in the Kokopo district, East New Britain, that according to the 2012 world cocoa conference, the world was expected to experience a shortfall of a million tonnes of cocoa.

He called for the need for farmers in PNG and throughout the world to increase the number of cocoa trees in their plantation.

Koel said due to international food safety standards, the demand for certification of cocoa bean product was growing internationally and was expected to be certified by 2020.

“PNG must stay positive on this aspect. That’s why formation of cooperatives or farmer groups under the productive partnership in agriculture project is so vital at this stage to enable smallholder cocoa growers to access premium or niche markets,” he said.

Koel said although the cocoa industry may look gloomy right now due to internal forces, challenges and issues, it was still bright internationally as there was still demand for it among populous nations such as China and India were eating more chocolate due to western influences and globalisation trend.

Koel said the constraints and issues affecting the cocoa industry in the country were cocoa pod borer, declining small holder productivity, poor transport and market infrastructure, under-funded research and extension, poor access and affordability to credits, law and order and land tenure issues.