EPHRAIM Wangi is only 12 years old and comes from Yawasoro village, Wewak Rural LLG, East Sepik. Despite his young age, Ephraim is a kid with a special talent. He knows and is able to propagate or bud cocoa pod borer-tolerant seedlings.
He acquired the skills through his mum Nancy Wangi who had previously attended a cocoa bud crafting training in April 2020. His mum was one of some women participants at the cocoa training held at Hawain cocoa nursery set-up in Wewak.
It was a two-day training conducted by the European Union funded Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade Programme in Papua New Guinea (EU-Streit PNG), in collaboration with local partner, PNG Cocoa Board. The training focused on technicalities of cocoa propagation and field or farm management.
Budding of cocoa seedlings is the latest innovation in the cocoa value chain to produce cocoa pod borer (CPB)-tolerant varieties to replace old cocoa trees which have been infested and destroyed by the pest.
Like most mums, Wangi went home after the training and imparted the skills and knowledge to her eldest son Ephraim.
During a recent cocoa propagation and block management training at Yawasoro Village on April, officers of the EU-Streit PNG programme were impressed to see young Ephraim’s fluency in cocoa bud crafting.
Among the 129 elderly men, women and youth participants, Ephraim emerged as a classic example for one of EU-Streit PNG’s main goals, which is to train trainers-of-trainers.
Ephraim’s mum did an excellent job to share the knowledge and skills she learned from the training with her son who is now following her footsteps to train fellow cocoa farmers in their community in his own way.
The cocoa budding skill didn’t stop there for the Wangi family. Ephraim’s small brother Stanford who is only nine years old is also talented as his brother and shares the same interest for cocoa farming skills.
The sons have joined hands with their mother and assisted her to train 30-plus other male and female farmers in the Yawasoro village with cocoa budding techniques.
While their father Clifford Wangi navigates a local boat to and from Madang, his spouse cultivates and manages their cocoa block of 110 trees. With the skills and knowledge of cocoa propagation and block management now vested in the family, they are now able to manage their block better. With a little more money from an increase in production, Nancy and Clifford are able to pay for their children’s school fees and other necessities.
“The money my parents get from cocoa is well spent on me and my brother’s school fees as well as our family needs, and my mum and dad use it to buy other goods to retail,” says Ephraim.
The brothers Ephraim and Stanford now attends their local Yawasoro Central Primary School and are in grade 5 and 3 respectively.
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Ephraim confidently said he wanted to be a manager in the cocoa industry.
The EU-funded Streit PNG programme is keen to support more hard working families like the Wangi’s throughout the Sepik region.
“We’re here to talk about doing business in agriculture as a family and this is a good example. Farmers have to organize in groups and take up the interest and for the programme to come in to support,” says Programme Coordinator Dr Xuebing Sun.
This rural agriculture development programme is slowly reaching the remote communities with the knowledge and skills to rehabilitate their cocoa blocks. Many families in the Sepik Region depend on cocoa for their wellbeing.
The EU-Streit PNG, being implemented as a UN joint programme (FAO as leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDFP and UNDP as implementing partners), is the largest grant-funded programme of the EU in the country and the Pacific region, which focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through increasing the economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains and strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers including the business environment and supporting sustainable, climate proof transport and energy infrastructure development.”
- Article and picture from EU-Streit PNG Programme.