By JIMMY KALEBE
PAPUA New Guinea’s cocoa industry today is valued at between K350 and K400 million with the leading provinces being East Sepik, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (Arob) and East New Britain.
According to PNG Cocoa Board (PNGCB) chief executive officer Boto Gaupu, the country has produced 40,000 tonnes of cocoa per year over the last 20 years.
“The only drop that PNG experienced during that timeframe was in 2006 when the cocoa pod borer hit many plantations nationwide,” Gaupu said.
“However, with lots of investments and intervention programmes nationally and provincially, districts and provinces began picking up on their production.”
With the Government expecting the cocoa industry to contribute significantly to the national economy, the plan now is to increase production by 12 per cent per year based on all investment activities in the country.
“That is why on average, PNGCB would like to see cocoa production increase to 50,000 metric tonnes and going upwards to 100,000 in the next five years,” Gaupu said.
He said PNGCB wanted to increase the current value of K350 million to a K1 billion in the future with the cash crop having a potential to grow economies in districts and provinces.
Asked if the recent the Covid-19 outbreak had an impact on the industry, he said the board had developed protocols and distributed to farmers for best practices but the situation had not greatly impacted the industry. “Every area in chain of cocoa production from farmers to exporters as well as international markets are doing their best to make sure the industry is not badly affected.”
Gaupu called on cocoa farmers nationwide to manage and live with the Covid-19 by adapting safety measures so that production was not affected and revenue generation would continue.
By JIMMY KALEBE