By PETER ESILA
A GROUP of coffee farmers in Kokoda, Sohe, Northern, walk for a day to get to the nearest road to sell their coffee, an official says.
The executive director of Hata Farmers Coffee Ltd Timothy Dadi said farmers were paid K2/kg which was below the current market price.
Dadi also formed the Hata farmers’ cooperative society.
There are about 21 rural farmers in the Kokoda local level government that supply coffee beans to the company.
He said the Government and local authorities needed to fix roads to help farmers reach the market.
Dadi said with the government’s price support project, they could be buying coffee at K4 or K5 per kilo as was the case in the Highlands.
“In the Highlands, they are buying at K5 to K6 per kg but for us we start very low at K2 because of the freight cost.
“The Government should do something about it because more farmers are interested to work in their coffee gardens every day.”
Dadi said his brother was previously buying coffee at 80 toea per kilo but support from the Sohe district office had seen buyers pay K2 per kilo.
He said if the Government provided price support for farmers in Northern it would see them being able to sell their coffee for K3 to K4 per kilo, benefiting locals and the communities. Dadi said local farmers faced several challenges in getting their coffee to buyers.
The two biggest difficulties were transporting coffee (time and physical effort needed) which was caused by a lack of roads into the rural areas and the cost of hiring porters to carry the loads.
Hata Farmers Coffee Ltd has also partnered with Central Mamina Coffee Ltd with packaging, advertising and marketing.
“We normally fly 150kg from the village to Port Moresby on a chartered flight, if there is available charter then we send one bag,” he said.
“With one bag, we can make around 100 packets
“If two bags, then you are looking at 200 packages, at the moment the demand is high but we are still down with stock.”
Dadi said the company was planning to put up a coffee shop along the Kokoda Track, at one of the battle fields and one at Kokoda station offering trackers Kokoda coffee.
“Our first shipment went to Lae, we sent about 1,000kg of coffee bags to Lae and this is our third year in operation. We are trying to send a container down to Melbourne with assistance from Central Mamina,” he said. “We had our first sample and coffee packet, we call it Kokoda Coffee.”
By PETER ESILA