Price, accessibility making farmers lose interest in coffee


AGRICULTURE and Livestock Minister John Simon says low coffee production can be attributed mainly to price and accessibility to markets.
“The continuous drop in production is due to many reasons and price and accessibility are main ones,” he said. “Growing coffee is not a problem.
“Papua New Guineans are hardworking people. When it comes to price and accessibility; it makes our people lose interest.”
Simon said this during a recent Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) board meeting in Port Moresby.
He said it was not easy and needed partnership and collaboration with development partners and government bodies to move things forward.
“How do we get coffee from the remote places such as Afore, Kambia, Agaun and other remote places out to the markets?,” he said.
“It just needs a bit of planning.”
Simon urged State and development partners to put the plight of the farmers first and the interests of sector later.
CIC acting chief executive officer Charles Dambui said it costs K5,000 plus to charter a third level airline to only load about 22 bags on a single run.
He said under the freight programme, CIC currently worked with five airline companies to airfreight coffee bags from remote areas.
However, the programme itself cannot cater for the high demand and need of farmers’ coffee in those remote places.
“The volume of coffee in those remote areas is more compared to what the programme can bring out,” Dambui said.
He highlighted that third level airline charter rates continue to increase and the ceasing of the twin-otter aircrafts had reduced the volume of coffee that could to be airfreighted on a single charter, making it costly and uneconomical for farmers when prices were low.
He said most times coffee bags were left to rot or were burnt when there was no way out.
Meanwhile, Simon said the Government had looked at price support and not price stabilisation.
“We tried to see how we can help motivate the farmers,” he said.
“The price support was introduced at a time when parchment coffee prices were trading below K4/kg.
“There was not enough return on the farmer’s sweat.
“The subsidy aimed to bring the parchment price above K5. Now the price is above K5 so why are we still talking about price support?
“You are already getting more than K5, K6 and K7.
“How can the remote areas get these same prices? If ever we have some money, let us look at these people. For the remote farmers, they are still earning K1 or K2 but they are also contributing to the industry.
“It is about time the board and CIC look at a strategy to bring these people’s coffee out.
“The challenge is on you my new board of directors. You have to sit, meet and discuss and let me know what to bring to Cabinet.
“I am also going to the Government to ask them to continue (the) price support.
“We need to look at our brothers not enjoying (the) K5/K6 price.”