PAUL Winias (right) wants to turn the land of his in-laws at Gabsongkeg village near Nadzab Airport into cocoa land.
Where betelnut once dominated, Mr Winias wants cocoa to take over in a big way.
The betelnut trees have long gone after a nasty betelnut pest swept down the Markham Valley, eliminating every green palm in its way.
But Mr Winias is not a man to sit back and watch the kunai grass all day.
He is pulling out the kunai grass and planting cocoa.
So far, he has 10,000 cocoa trees making him the biggest cocoa grower in the Markham Valley at this time.
With the technical support of New Zealand-funded agency Bris Kanda, Mr Winias and his in-laws are grabbing cocoa by the roots and running.
He is planning on planting another 10,000 trees.
In the meantime, he has set up a huge cocoa nursery which can hold up to 10,000 seedlings, which he wants to distribute to other farmers in the area to plant for themselves.
General manager of Bris Kanda Lukis Romaso, who is seen here with Mr Winias, said he was the best role model for cocoa farmers in the Markham Valley.
Bris Kanda is bringing new farmers from throughout the valley and Morobe in the Huon Gulf area to visit his farm to gain first-hand experience on how to grow and manage cocoa.
Mr Romaso said Bris Kanda was working towards turning the Huon district into a major cocoa-producing area in Papua New Guinea.
He said he had no doubt that with the large area of land available to the village people who live in the valley, Markham could become the biggest cocoa-producing area in the country.
“The soil is organic and very fertile.
“It is perfect for cocoa and all it needs is for the village people to make a commitment to make it happen,” Mr Romaso said after inspecting Mr Winias’ cocoa nursery.