The National,Monday 11th of February, 2013
By GABRIEL LAHOC
COFFEE farming and production has the potential to be the leading industry of Jiwaka and can empower its people to compete with other resource rich provinces, a Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) official said.
National farmer training and extension coordinator Simon Gesip said coffee production would boost the economy of a province which lacked natural resources such as gas, oil and gold.
He was speaking at a recent visit to Komkul cooperative society in North Waghi where he led a group of senior CIC officials.
Joe Alu, the farmer training and extension coordinator for Jiwaka and Western Highlands, said coffee farmers in the fledgling province were now putting extra effort into rehabilitating plantations, some of which had been inoperative in the past decade.
The cooperative is one of a number of new groups that farmers have formed with the assistance of CIC.
It has 45 members who own more than 120,000 coffee trees and more than 12,000 seedlings in their nurseries.
Society chairman Michael Yeka said he was seeing a change in farmers’ attitude as they turned to producing coffee.
Yeka said CIC was the first organisation to go into their area and assist the 11-month-old group.
One of the most important achievements under this partnership was the propagation of new skills and techniques by CIC officers.
“We realised that we did not really have some of the skills and ideas but after we engaged with CIC, we are now happy that we have acquired the knowhow to get more beans from each tree,” he said.
Gesip said CIC was now targeting the younger farmers and was looking at them to take the initiative to grow the industry in the province.
“This province of Jiwaka will change and develop under the leadership of the young men and women of Jiwaka,” he said.
Henry Kumye, a Komkul member farmer, also challenged other young Jiwakans with a background in the coffee industry to return to the province and apply their knowledge.
The group is working on its coffee information centre which aims to engage with the people rehabilitating their plantations and look for international partners.