By GLORIA BAUAI
THE idea of cocoa cultivation as a commodity is quickly spreading through Highlands with Jiwaka being the newest to come on board, an official says.
Peter Bapiwai, a research agronomist attached with PNG cocoa board (PNGCB), has been assisting cocoa research and developments in the high altitudes of PNG.
He said there was a high interest across the Highlands for cocoa cultivation.
On Wednesday, Bapiwai accompanied three groups from Jimi, Jiwaka, – the Yambai cocoa development initiative, Runimb cocoa development and Jimi women and youth in agriculture – to Lae to sell about a tonne of cocoa to Outspan.
He said the total number of trees planted by these three groups were over 37,000.
He said their main challenges now were accessibility, lack of technical personnel on site and proper resources to help grow, produce cocoa and bring out to market.
Bapiwai said the aim was to make cocoa become a complementary cash crop in the Highlands.
“This can become an established industry to help people generate income to sustain and improve living standards,” he said.
“People have very little opportunity to earn income and cocoa is one source apart from coffee already in the area (Highlands).
“But at the moment, we just need to organise ourselves and provide planting materials, training and necessary support and assistance that can enhance people to cultivate cocoa in the Highlands to meet the targets.”
According to the PNG cocoa board 2050 vision, the target for cocoa production should be 310,000 tonnes by 2030.
Morobe cocoa board regional manager Anthony Ningi, who facilitated the first transaction between the Jimi cocoa farmers and Outspan, said Highlands farmers had the opportunity to provide specialty cocoa into the market.
“But when it comes to specialty markets, it’s about how we look after the cocoa and how we process it and maintaining this consistency over time,” he said.
Ningi said PNGCB would be to provide training in Jiwaka while they work around seeking assistance for a fermentry in the area.
By GLORIA BAUAI