By ZACHERY PER
TONY Yagu decided to become a farmer after dropping out of Grade Eight.
Today he thinks he will become the most successful cocoa farmer in Karamui, Gumine, Chimbu.
“The high price of cocoa motivates me. Today I have 11,660 cocoa trees on my farm in Karamui.”
Tony, 45, is married to Christina Isaac from Omkolai also in Gumine. They have sons Philip, Isaac and Kum, and daughter Christine.
He attended Karepa Primary School from grades one to six and Omkolai for Grade Seven before completing Grade Eight at the Rintebe High School in Eastern Highlands. He then dropped out because of financial problems.
Tony turned to the land at the foot of Mt Karamui and grew cocoa. Today, he has already sold 1,000 bags of organically-grown cocoa to the Agmark Group in Lae.
He plants vegetables and peanuts on the side.
He began by planting 5,000 coffee trees and became one of the biggest coffee growers in Karamui. But he could not meet the high cost of air freighting it to Kundiawa or Goroka to sell.
“We rely on air transport provided by the Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and Seventh Day Aviation. But the high freight cost is a hindrance. I could not make enough money to look after my family.”
His break came when the Chimbu agriculture division in 2012 freely distributed polythene bags and seedlings.
“I was one of the first farmers to plant cocoa. I made the first harvest in 2014 and sold 56 kg and received K560.”
He has 86 bags at the Karamui airstrip. It costs K200 to send a bag by air.
When Prime Minister James Marape and his delegation visited Karamui recently, Tony poured out six bags of cocoa so that they could see his farm produce.
“I did it to show PM Marape and his delegation especially Agriculture Minister John Simon that I have no way to transport my cocoa. I need the help of the provincial government, agriculture department and perhaps the PNG Cocoa Board. If nothing can be done by the end of the year, we will burn the bags at the airstrip.”
He bought a K11,500 dryer from Lae in September.
“ I have 84 bags of high quality cocoa sitting at Karamui airport. I need the Government to provide freight subsidy.”
“We need a dryer to dry the cocoa to get quality beans.”
He thanks Salt Nomane Karamui MP Geoffrey Kama and Marape for coming to Karamui and seeing for themselves the struggles cocoa farmers face.
He also hopes roads can be opened to help farmers transport their farm produce to the markets.
Tony sees the potential in cocoa and using the land to generate income. He knows that the Government is investing a lot in agriculture and developing rural areas.
He and fellow farmers are doing their bit and hope the Government can assist them to become successful and help the economy.
“I have 84 bags of high quality cocoa sitting at Karamui airport. I need the Government to provide freight subsidy.”