Concern polls will affect exports


AN official is concerned that this year’s general election may affect Papua New Guinea’s cocoa volume exports.
PNG Cocoa Board’s Morobe manager Anthony Ningi said it was a common for people to change their focus on farming to politics during elections.
Ningi said in the last election in 2017, cocoa volume for Morobe dropped from 4,500 bags down to 3,000 bags.
He explained that Morobe’s cocoa market picked up in 2014 after a series of interventions.
Ningi said the volume produced by Morobe between 2008 and 2014 was only 800 bags which was well below its potential.
Ningi said following a thorough survey through the region from Madang, through Morobe to Northern, issues were identified and a concerted effort to grow the market began after 2014.
He said as the cocoa office was properly established in the province, there was widespread cocoa awareness and investments in seedlings as well as restoring and expanding cocoa plantations.
Ningi said this saw a modest increase to 1,200 bags by the end of 2014 and this improved to 4,500 bags by 2016.
“This all dropped during election year in 2017 and I’m concerned that this trend may repeat this year,” he said.
“Farmers can return to the farms after election but it will take extra time and effort again to build up the abandoned plantations and fermentries for our volume to pick up.”
Ningi said the Cocoa Board had continued to support the local industry and farmers by supplying seedlings and having nurseries across the province.
He said Morobe’s volume currently stood at an estimated 5,000 bags with an annual increase of almost a thousand bags every year.
He said the region expected an increase of somewhere between 5,000 to 8,000 bags by 2025.