By ROSELYN ELLISON
NORMAN Mondo, 48, from Karimui area in Karimui-Nomane District of Chimbu shared his experiences on how he switched from coffee farmer to cocoa farmer.
Chimbu is so fortunate to have cocoa growing in one part of the district where the lead cocoa famer Mondo comes from.
When sharing his experience on how and why he tapped into cocoa production, Mondo gave a brief background history about himself.
Mondo’s father was a Lutheran Church missionary medical worker where he was based at Karimui and that is where Mondo was born and raised there.
Mondo said he started his primary education at Karimui Community School in 1980 where he did his Grade 1 and completed his Grade 6 in 1986.
From 1987 to 1988 he attended a technical vocational training school at Kundiawa Vocational School.
After completing his training at vocational school he went back home at Karimui where he started growing coffee.
In year 1990 to 2000 Mondo was the big coffee buyer at Karimui.
“I used to buy big quantities of coffee in Karimui and later I used to transport the coffee bags by air to Goroka or Kundiawa where I always resold the coffee bags there,” said Mondo.
Karamui-Nomane district is one of the districts in the Chimbu which is not accessible to road links like other five districts and the only means of transport to the area is by air at that time and Mondo was only coffee buyer from Karimui who always transport his coffee bags through small aircraft to the main towns at Goroka, Kundiawa or Lae for sale.
In 1999 Mondo built a big coffee factory at Karimui, he brought big machines and he setup the factory there which he uses to process the coffee green beans.
He furthermore stated that, many times he encountered problems due to no support from the government and with the air freight is a big challenge to him but he did not gave up he continue to support the local coffee farmers using his own funds to buy their coffee and later air transport the coffee bags to the main towns for sale.
“To make it worse at one stage there were no little planes or aircraft coming to Karimui which force me to shut down the coffee factory,” said Mondo.
“I was very angry I set fire on 1,500 coffee bags and burn them all,” he added.
“After closing down my coffee factory, I got back to my normal routines as an ordinary coffee farmer but my interest on coffee was not like before, I didn’t want to involve too much on coffee production because of the struggles I have encountered as a coffee buyer,” Mondo said.
In 2008 the Cocoa Board of PNG (CBPNG) introduced the cocoa in Karimui and in 2013 Mondo shows interest in cocoa.
There was no cocoa factory or buyer up at the highlands region as the cocoa is the new crop to the highlanders especially the Karimui because the cocoa was first introduced there.
Mondo said as a highlander, he knew very well tha the cocoa was only grown in the coastal provinces.
The advice, awareness and trainings from the CBPNG really boosted Mondo to try growing cocoa and he is now the lead cocoa farmer in Chimbu.
He added that cocoa seedlings were brought to Karimui by CBPNG officers in 2013 and he got the seedlings and planted them as his trial project but to his surprise, the cocoa he planted grew very well.
“With seeing this I was so happy and planted 50,000 clone hybrid cocoa seedling trees,” he said.
He said people were discouraging him not to continue to grow cocoa as the crop is new to them and he has no experience of growing cocoa but this did not stop Mondo from growing cocoa.
As a lead cocoa farmer at Karimui Mondo is now supplying the cocoa clone hybrid seedlings to the cocoa farmers there.
“CBPNG has been supporting me all this time during my day one when I planted cocoa seedlings and also the Simbu Provincial government and administration are really supporting me with this cocoa production,” Mondo said.
“Lately in 2017, I was selected by the CBPNG to participate in the cocoa excellence show in Paris where I saw exhibition and saw many things and also learnt a lot during this show and that was my first trip oversea,” Mondo said.
“In 2019 I sent my cocoa samples to the CBPNG headquarter in Kokopo to see if I could qualify to enter the cocoa competition. I competed with 250 farmers with their samples and they eliminated the other samples and accepted my samples,” Mondo added.
In the same year in 2019 Mondo represent Papua New Guinea and he went to the cocoa world challenge in Paris.
Out of 200 samples around the world, Mondo’s cocoa samples made to the second top best cocoa samples in the world and he got the award from that.
Again for this year Mondo was selected to compete with other 200 selected cocoa farmers throughout PNG and he was selected among the top six producers.
Norman is currently selling his cocoa bags to Outspan and Agmark in Lae.
Mondo’s big dream now is to build a chocolate factory at Karimui.
Mondo is married with four girls and three boys.
Mondo said his wife and children were very supportive in this work of cocoa production.