Coffee workers unite into one small melting pot


EXTENSION officers and field assistants working for three coffee rehabilitation partnerships in Eastern Highlands were brought together to set up a large scale nursery in the Asaro Valley recently.
It was the first for Coffee Industry Corporation’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (CIC-PPAP) officers working under different lead partners to engage as a team in a field activity.
The approach was successful as it blended in with the traditional or local knowledge and experience of a Melanesian society where tribesmen would gather on a day to build a family or community house or clear a villager’s garden for planting.
CIC-PPAP field technical officer Maureen Kahento came up with the idea following an inspection of Hatavile Coffee nursery at Wantrifu Village on July 5 this year.
The following were some flaws noted in the nursery:

  • Polybags were not filled to the top with soil causing sides of the bags to fall over preventing watering of surface soil and seeds; and  polybags to erode and break;
  • Uneven germination of seedlings where some died in the polybags. To avoid this, pre-germinate seeds or raise seeds in germination beds before transplanting into polybags when they are in the butterfly stage or when they grow their first two leaves;
  • All polybags should be tightly stacked together in straight lines for a period of at least 6 months to avoid falling apart. This also makes it easy to count them; and
  • All nurseries should have good pathways or drainage with a width of 600cm by 1200cm in the middle of each row for nursery attendants to walk on and attend to seedlings like watering and weeding.
    A practical session was arranged.
    Instead of conducting a single in-house training session with Hatavile officers, Kahento arranged for officers working for two other lead partners, CDA (Community Development Agency) Goroka Inc and Research Conservation Foundation (RCF) Goroka, to join for a practical session at Hatavile’s nursery set-up.
    The 12 officers and labourers employed by Hatavile started the day at 9am and finished at 4pm.
    “We had a radio turned on and placed in the middle of the nursery shed to follow the progress of counting for the 2017 general elections while working on the nursery.
    “It was exciting to see our officers working together and learning the simple and correct ways of setting up and managing a large scale coffee nursery before distributing the seedlings to farmers,” said Kahento.
    In fact it was a win-win situation for all participants where Hatavile provided the training ground and support staff, the project management unit of CIC-PPAP conducted the training and RCF Goroka and CDA Goroka provided free labour.
    “We’ve attended many trainings together conducted by CIC-PPAP. To combine our efforts with colleagues from other partnerships in my view is real partnership on the ground. I’m impressed,” said Sharon Erick who works as an extension officer for RCF Goroka.
    The joint practical session at Wantrifu Village reminded Lead Partner Philip Timbe, of Hatavile Coffee Ltd, of how organised rural people were in the 1970s and ’80s where tribesmen were very supportive of each other.
    “On a day the tribesmen would come together to construct a house or help a villager clear the bushes for his garden. The inviter and his family only provided the food at the end of the day.
    “Young men and women also play a part to learn the skills. This kind of organisation in our traditional settings is disappearing.
    “I admire today’s arrangement. For CIC-PPAP to bring us together kind of blend in with the local or traditional knowledge or way we organise in the past,” said Timbe, who is also a pastor of Four Square Church in the area.
    Hatavile Coffee is implementing coffee rehabilitation activities with 400 farmers under Call 4 covering 200 hectares. The nursery seedling of 120,000 capacity is for replanting and infilling in existing coffee gardens.
    Project manager Potaisa Hombunaka said PPAP is a productive partnership modality.
    He emphasised that the project’s success so far in terms of delivery is the result of corporation or partnership among all stakeholders, not only with government agencies but also among lead and co-partners, officers working for 36 partnerships and most, importantly, the farmers.
    “Through this PPAP modality involving private sector organisations in coffee processing and export businesses, NGOs and church groups, we have developed a wealth of local knowledge and experience helping us to deliver coffee development work to the target of 400,000 households.
    “The local approaches we have applied in various project sites in 10 coffee growing provinces are not the same. This is why we have been encouraging 36 partnerships from Call 1 – 4 to liaise with each other, share ideas or approaches to apply in their local areas as they see fit.
    “So far so good,” says Hombunaka.
    The project manager added that many of the 413 officers employed by lead and co-partners are recent graduates from agriculture colleges and universities. This is why CIC-PPAP is encouraging combined training and practical sessions to emphasise sharing and partnership so together they all can engage our rural farmers effectively.
    The industry rehabilitation under PPAP is a coffee industry project through the Department of Agriculture and Livestock. It is financed by a loan facility from World Bank  and International Fund for Agricultural Development), with support funding from the PNG government.
    The 10 provinces of operation are Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Jiwaka, Western Highlands, Enga, Southern Highlands, Morobe, Madang (Simbai and Kovon LLG), East Sepik and East New Britain.
    The project began in June 2011 in the four target areas of Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Jiwaka and Western Highlands.
    The rehabilitation work has been extended to include six other coffee-growing provinces as the project has been extended from June 2016 to June 2019 with additional loan financing from the World Bank and IFAD.
  • The author is the information and communications officer for Coffee Industry Corporation’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (CIC-PPAP).