By LEO WAFIWA
Coffee rehabilitation is bringing together over 3,000 rural farmers in the mountains Wain-Erap LLG area in the Nawaeb District of Morobe.
Wia Trade Enterprises Limited, an agribusiness firm has done well to showcase these changes at the recent Morobe Show in Lae on Nov 27 and 28.
The coffee rehabilitation project under Dr Joel G Waramboi (PhD) of Wia Trade Enterprises Ltd is supporting 3,200 growers across eight villages who are members of the Kasuka Co-operative Society.
Waramboi is managing director of the agribusiness firm and lead partner of Coffee Industry Corporation’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (CIC-PPAP).
He says what they successfully shared with many show goers was the coffee development work conducted in the remote mountains since 2016 aimed at improving the livelihood of coffee producers through increased production, improved quality and marketing.
The project also aims to change people’s mindset and behaviour through various trainings and capacity building activities.
He says they are implementing various activities like rehabilitating 813 coffee gardens, distributing 216,860 new coffee seedlings, running trainings on coffee as well as business development, personal viability, financial literacy, health and HIV/Aids, and gender and women empowerment.
“We are also supporting farmers with production tools and materials such as spades, secateurs, pulpers, drying beds, coffee film rolls, and bush knives,” says Waramboi.
Project manager for PPAP coffee Potaisa Hombunaka explains the tool and materials invention programme is supporting many simple rural growers to revive their coffee gardens.
“Training people without giving them the basic tools, equipment and materials to practice the skills they have learned is useless. This is why the distribution of basic tools, equipment and materials is necessary to support all kinds of training given to farmers.
“Farmers pay a five per cent or K50 only of the total cost of around K1,000 to take ownership of the items,” says Hombunaka.
Meanwhile, Wia Trade Enterprise Ltd has built eight resource centres for their growers in the Wain-Erap mountains behind Nadzab Airport.
The lead partner and managing director says the resource centre concept is an innovative one where villagers provide sawn timber, sweat and labour equity while the lead partner provides building materials. The centres are fully powered by solar and will have water connected.
“There are rooms in these centres to conduct trainings where government agencies, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and companies can go into the village and conduct their business.”
“It also has the potential to create agro-tourism, an emerging concept that could bring coffee buyers and drinkers from overseas to come and go right into the villages, live with the people, see who grows their coffee and where it comes from.
“This is important as it opens up transparency and traceability for coffee trade,” explains Waramboi.
He says coffee is a cash crop but it is also a “social crop” hence it is the human aspect that people tend to forget.
“The Ethiopians grow and consume their own coffee unlike us in PNG. A cuppa also connects, binds and brings people together. “This is what we are trying to also educate our growers so that they embrace both the financial and social dimensions and benefits. It means getting the people to taste their own coffee instead of growing it for someone else overseas when you do not know the taste and quality of your own coffee.”
This is where human development programmes and interventions can sustain if rural communities are empowered with basic community infrastructures as well as inclusive social and technical trainings.
The PPAP is doing exactly that to directly benefit growers in the project impact areas, he said.
Waramboi adds coffee is the main cash crop in Morobe. However, production has been declining over the years, and major interventions based on the PPAP modality with excellent monitoring and governance are required to develop the coffee value chain from production to marketing.
“Mobilising grower groups or co-operatives and public-private partnership is the way forward because grower groups do not have capacity to grow on their own.
“A lot of funding and focus has been put by past governments and donors directly into grower groups and yet there is nothing to show for as many co-operatives are non-existent and some have vanished and or become dysfunctional.
“Hence, government needs to work in partnership with private sector to thrive growth and investment in agribusiness, and that is exactly what we are doing through PPAP.”
Wia Trade Enterprise Ltd has invested significant resources to improve production and marketing ends of coffee value chain, and will soon open a coffee mill at Nadzab to provide a market for thousands of farmers in Morobe and other areas from 2019 onwards.
The villagers have positively embraced change since the PPAP project started. Nimbi Kasilam, chairman of the Kalebo village cluster said: in Tok Pisin “Mipela hamamas tru long dispela wok Wia Trade kisim kam. Ol putim nupela neseri sidlings, soim nupela wei blong luakutim kofi na tu lainim mipela long wok blong kamapim bisnis na gutpela sindaun long ples. Mipela olgeta amamas tru na tok bikpela tenkyu long Wia Trade, CIC, PPAP, World Bank, IFAD, PNG Gavman na ol narapela partners.”
Waramboi says recent statistics by World Bank shows that 38 per cent of the PNG population live below the poverty line with an earning power of 1.90 US dollars per day.
“This is not doom and gloom. People must see coffee as their ATM (automated teller machine) because that is where your cash income, house, PMV truck, school fee and medicine is.
“At the same time, government focus must be on agriculture and market access infrastructure like roads, bridges, airstrips, jetties to assist the people.”
The agribusiness entrepreneur is of the view that those who are fortunate to have PPAP projects must use this opportunity as a platform to work the land to improve their own lives.
As for the 3,200 farmers of Kasuka Co-operative Society, Waramboi says they have positively embraced change since the start of PPAP coffee rehabilitation project in October 2016.
“We will continue to work with the farmers in a nucleus estate model of agriculture development. This model aims to foster the economic interaction between an agribusiness firm in partnership with smallholder coffee growers.”
The lead partner has also organised on behalf of the growers for National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) to conduct organic certification this November.
“Partnership is the magic and we working with many stakeholders like Ginigoada who did financial literacy training where 105 people attended. One positive story that came out after this is that, two of our farmers have registered their businesses with IPA (Investment Promotion Authority) and one has already got his certificate.”
He adds: “last month, Nambawan Supa opened Choice Supa accounts for 178 farmers who now have access to savings, credit and other financial services.
“I want to thank the Government of PNG, donors, and the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) for this PPAP project and the Morobe Provincial Government/DAL for the support.”
The coffee rehabilitation project is financed under a loan arrangement with World Bank and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) with support funding from PNG Government.
The CIC is the custodian of the coffee component through the Department of Agriculture and Livestock.
- Leo Wafiwa is the Information Communication officer at the Coffee Industry Corporation.