The National, Thursday August 1st, 2013
A MULTI-million kina project launched yesterday on Karkar Island, Madang, aims to rebuild the cocoa industry following the devastation by the cocoa pod borer.
The project, funded by PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd, the National Government and the Sumkar Joint District Planning and Budget Priorities Committee, will introduce new pest-resistant stock, the training of farmers in new techniques and the rehabilitation of plantations.
By lifting production to pre-infestation levels, it is expected that the project could benefit about 10,000 Karkar farming families, whose incomes and output are expected to rise through the use of more cost-effective techniques.
PNGSDP chief executive David Sode said he was confident the project will succeed.
“We are bringing to Karkar techniques that have been successful in an earlier project in East New Britain,” he said.
“Karkar farmers visited the ENB project, liked what they saw, and asked us to consider funding a project for them.
“The project is being implemented by the Cocoa Coconut Institute, which will oversee the introduction of new stock, establish farmer training facilities and supervise the training of farmers in cocoa pod borer management and other techniques, and oversee plantation rehabilitation.
“It is a very soundly based joint effort, and our experience tells us that this is the type of project that is the most successful.”
The infestation of the cocoa pod borer has been devastating for local farmers, with the island’s cocoa harvest falling from 2,000 tonnes in 2009 to 850 tonnes last year.
Cocoa farm income has fallen from K9 million in 2009 to a mere K3.6 million these days.
PNGSDP is allotting K2 million to the project, the National Government, K2 million and the Sumkar Joint District Planning and Budget Priorities Committee, K1.5 million.
Kulili and Biapi plantation estates have been contracted to set up new nurseries and budwood gardens to supply new pest-resistant seedlings.
One million seedlings will go to 5,000 village growers (200 seedlings per household) under PNGSDP funding and a further one million would be supplied with government funding to smallholder and plantation growers.
Dogowan and Wokilon plantations will also be rehabilitated under the institute’s supervision.
PNGSDP is a 63.4% shareholder in the Ok Tedi mine.
The dividends from its shareholding are used to support development work across the nation.