Karimui coffee growers tough it out to sell beans

Business, Main Stories

The National, Wednesday, May 25, 2011

COFFEE growers and buyers in Karimui areas, inaccessible by road, are faced with extreme difficulties in getting their coffee out into the markets.
More than half of their revenue is spent on air freight leaving them with less than half of what they anticipate to earn.
Karimui in Chimbu is only serviced by Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Aviation third level airline operators.
Norman Mondo, a major coffee buyer in Karimui, said the major problem facing them was to get the coffee out into the open markets.
He said despite the high cost of freight charge, they buy parchment from small growers, meet the high freight cost and bring the coffee to Goroka to sell.
“Upon return, we bring back store items to sell to the people, we are providing much needed services to the under privilege people in remote Karimui area,” he said.
Mondo established a green bean coffee factory in Karimui in 2000 producing high quality green bean for export markets.
However, he was not  able to fly out 250 green bean bags due to changes in airline schedules, high freight cost and other associated problems.
Mondo burnt the green beans, dismantled his green bean producing machine and shut down the factory.
“We always got stuck most times because MAF and SDA Aviation have their own priority to serve, we sometimes wait for months to get our coffee out.
“The small coffee farmer is fine with what they earn from their parchment coffee, the airline is fine with making how much they aim to make, but the greatest loser is the middle man the buyers, we pay high freight cost and make very little profit,” Mondo said.
The airlines charge K2.80 per kilo.
A bag of dried parchment weights about 60kg and it costs K168 to freight one bag.
The Twin Otter  can carry only 34 bags of parchment coffee at K5,712 freight charge.