COCOA farmers in Kokopo and East New Britain have been called on to stop treating their cocoa blocks as an “automatic teller machine” where they just go to their blocks, harvest their cocoa and go away.
Kokopo MP and Minister for Communication and Information Patrick Tammur said cocoa growers had to spend time at their blocks, cut grass and prune their cocoa trees just as the people did in the past.
Speaking at the recent cocoa pod borer (CPB) mini-field day held at Bitapetep Primary School, he said farmers must work closely with relevant authorities in order to eradicate CPB in the province.
He said people could not longer pretend that there was no problem with their cocoa blocks and urged them to work together and co-operate with relevant authorities to control or eradicate CPB, which was causing a major economic problem for cocoa farmers in the province.
The purpose of the mini-field day was to raise awareness on the primary causes of the disease and to highlight simple ways to control the disease.
Mr Tammur said the people must not abandon their cocoa blocks at this time but instead to intensify their fight against the disease and re-generate their cash crop back to production level.
“Through cocoa and copra, we sent our children to school, we bought vehicles and we built permanent homes, so now is not the time to abandon cocoa which is the lifeline for our people,” he said.
Sadly, the minister said that CPB had already decreased production output for the province, and if the people were not careful, it could lower cocoa quality, which would not look good on the world market.