By LEO WAFIWA
THERE are no quick solutions to the coffee berry borer (CBB) threat now restricted in parts of Eastern Highlands and Jiwaka.
One approach that can make ‘magic’ is through partnership with all stakeholders.
Everyone must see the fight against CBB as their personal business.
This is the new step forward taken by some community leaders in Jiwaka with the support of Coffee Industry Corporation Limited (CIC) in a major awareness campaign under the theme ‘Together We Fight Coffee Berry Borer, Kopi Beri Borer Rausim Kopi Moni.’
The awareness began this week on Monday Dec 11, and will continue into next year.
It is a follow-up from ongoing efforts by CIC since Feb 21, this year after the dreaded pest was first discovered in Banz District of Jiwaka.
The effort this week in Jiwaka reveals the beginning of a partnership approach to mobilize public support and create an understanding with growers for CIC extension officers to conduct recycle pruning of infested coffee trees.
The anticipated outcome is to contain and eradicate the CBB pest.
The successful participation of over 20 community leaders, village court peace officers or mediators and ward councillors including some volunteers from Banz and Minj District confirms group cohesion or partnership as the most effective means to fight CBB.
All participants were all dressed in blue CIC ‘T’ shirts and joined the first public appearance in Banz town on Monday, Dec 11.
Also joining the campaign were law enforcers from Banz Police Station led by Senior Sargent Joseph Nganimp under the direction of the provincial police commander.
Interestingly, Jiwaka provincial government acknowledging coffee as the main source of income for the provincial economy also took part with its senior provincial Department of Agriculture & Livestock officers namely Fabian Api and Umar Nuka taking part.
A director of CIC Board Jack Kulam also volunteered with three SHCGA (PNG Smallholder Coffee Growers Association) representatives from Jiwaka.
Team Leader Joe Alu explained that the aim was to ensure everyone including coffee growing communities in CBB infested areas take ownership of the fight against the CBB beetle.
“There are many players along the value chain and coffee is the lifeline of the Jiwaka people unlike other highlands provinces.”
“People here are passionate about their coffee. To utilize community leaders in the CBB infested areas is encouraging to drive the message to the farmers,” says Alu.
The community heads were identified during earlier awareness conducted by CIC officers.
The first week of campaign was successful covering eight strategic locations namely Banz town, 16 Kona in Minz, Tolu and Singinda, Kundjip Market and Kerowil, Tombil and Kukmil. The team will visit Minj Rot Bung and Bunun Woo today – Friday, Dec 15.
These are public meeting places and CBB infested communities.
The messages delivered in public places like Banz town and Kunjip market focused on the impact of the pest on coffee production, foreign exchange and provincial economy, and subsequent effect on farmers’ income and their livelihood.
“Coffee brings foreign exchange into the country to support cash flow and business activities in Banz,” Dr Mark Kenny told the commuters at Banz town.
Dr Kenny is general manager of CIC’s Research, Growers and Service Division.
“Without coffee you will have no money to buy the buai, garden produce and second hand clothes you’re selling here,” andadds: “The CBB pest will destroy your coffee cherries and reduce your income earning opportunities.”
“We cannot reduce the damage this pest will cause unless we hold hands and work together.”
“We ask you to work together with CIC officers and allow us to rehabilitate your gardens.”
In the CBB infested communities, farmers were also told that there will be no compensation claims.
“The Plant Disease and Control Act provides for the destruction of plants and plant parts and the execution of containment and eradication exercise is within the law.”
“Any claims for compensation shall be deemed as extortion and the offender arrested and charged under the relevant laws,” Dr Kenny said.
Farmers in infested areas whose trees will be pruned were also told to register with CIC for the following reasons:
- They will be mobilized to form coffee growers’ cooperative to effectively manage CBB in the long term;
- To receive training for long term CBB management through the cooperatives;
- To build in long term management of CBB in the containment areas;
- For CIC to maintain weed control for new plantings or new suckers raised from old stumps up to first full crop harvest;
- To get new seedlings for replanting or infilling; and
- For CIC to set up CBB traps for up to three years before the garden owner takes over.
Dr Kenny said the objective of this awareness was to inform, educate and seek cooperation from the CBB infested communities and affected growers on the recycle pruning exercise that will follow as one important strategy to contain and eradicate the pest.
Recycle pruning is removing of all branchesfor suckers to grow from the stump.
“We want farmers to understand and support what we will do.”
“Pruning will improve yield from a coffee tree. One or two trees that does not grow again we will replace from our nurseries,” said Dr Kenny.
The general manager also known as Kopi Dokta said the total CBB infested area to undergo pruning in Jiwaka is 2,583 hectares while in Eastern Highlands covers 12,303 ha.
The total area of 14,886 ha is covered by both buffer zones and CBB infested sites.
He said CIC extension and field officers will approach the infested gardens from outside a one kilometer buffer zone and also develop protocols for recycle pruning of coffee trees.
The one km buffer zone will be created from the edges of CBB infested gardens.
“The pruning exercise will begin from the buffer zone and advance towards the epicentre of infestation. This approach will disturb and push CBB beetles to move inwards to the centre of coffee plots,” he said.
Dr Kenny added that setting Brocap and Ethanol traps will be concentrated in the centre of the infected gardens to attract the CBB beetles to move inwards.
The partnership was a learning experience for the community leaders who are also coffee growers or farmers.
“I’m happy to join other leaders in Banz and Minj. I learned from many things that were shared,” said CouncillorGualSike in TokPisin.
“We must encourage this kind of group work.
“We little growers will be the most affected. It is our problem really.”
“It is an excellent idea for all community leaders to join. The people know us as their leaders. They will listen to us and allow CIC officers to prune their coffee trees.”
A similar awareness was conducted in Eastern Highlands, one of two provinces affected by CBB pest.
- The author is Information & Communications Officer for Coffee Industry Corporation.