By GABRIEL FITO
ABOUT 250 East Sepik cocoa farmers underwent training on how to monitor the pod borer that kills cocoa plants.
Outspan PNG Ltd, a leading cocoa exporter in PNG, conducted two training programmes in Maprik and Angoram.
The Maprik training attracted 200 farmers from the Maprik and Dreikikir districts while the Angoram training drew about 50 farmers due to bad weather.
Outspan PNG Ltd manager Basavaraj Mashetty said both training programmes were aimed at improving cocoa quality through the entire chain from the time of fermenting to drying and storage.
He said farmers were also taught how to identify trees with pod borer and how to effectively manage it.
“Cocoa prices are at a historical high, averaging constantly above K450 this year.
“Given that the prices are expected to be stable, it is the right time for farmers to not only increase productivity but also increase the hectare of cocoa plantings.
“Cocoa’s steady prices can make Angoram a thriving area with a real strong economy,” Mr Mashetty said.
Cocoa Board manager Moses Burin said it was vital for cocoa farmers to identify pod borer quickly through the Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPDM), a technique to manage the disease.
Farmers reported that pod borer was sighted in Yamen, Yuat LLG.
They appealed to the Cocoa Board not to conduct training programmes alone but also provide subsidies for chemicals to manage the disease.