The National, Tuesday November 5th, 2013
A NEW policy to promote coffee production has been approved, Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll has revealed.
The policy guidelines, which were approved last week, were hoped to stem the fast-declining coffee production in Papua New Guinea, he said.
“Now, we have a policy shift to look after growers,” Tomscoll said.
He said it was the growers who had the capacity to increase PNG’s coffee harvest and not the traders.
“We must now look after growers to help them grow more coffee so our export volumes would increase.”
Harvest has been declining since 30 years ago because farmers had abandoned the crop for something better, Tomscoll said.
Speaking in Goroka over the weekend, he, however, said there was a new policy in place to invigorate the industry.
“Many coffee growers had abandoned coffee, leaving the industry to decline over the past 30 years,” he told members of Apo Angra Kange (AAK) Coffee Corporative and chief executive officer of the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) in Asaro last Saturday.
Tomscoll said growers had a big job to promote coffee farming.
“How can we harness this (coffee)? Past policies looked after the traders and not growers.
“From 1960 to 1980, coffee had been the top revenue earner for PNG, but now oil palm had taken over; we must plant more coffee to increase production,” Tomscoll said.
The new guidelines would promote more coffee growing and restructure the agriculture sector through a major review.
Tomscoll said he engaged the services of Dr Winton Bates, an agriculture policy maker from New Zealand, to devise new structure for agriculture in PNG.
He said the agriculture subsidy scheme would allow farmers to get tools instead of money, a new scheme to root out the “paper farmers” (fake farmers).
Tomscoll said PNG must invest in human resource to acquire scientific knowledge and technology to improve farm production.
“Our future is anchored on the knowledge-based society; we have the resource to develop but we lack the scientific knowlwdge and technology to achieve this.
“Our prime minister and I had invited countries like Israel to come and invest in PNG to help our people learn and acquire skills and knowledge.”