Transport affects market

The National, Friday July 15th, 2016

MORE than 1000 tonnes of coffee parchments from remote areas that do not have proper transport means fail to reach the markets each year.
Hardship are faced daily by many rural farmers who have to carry their bags of coffee and walk for days or move them by rafts, tubes or drums to the nearest airstrip or jetty to access the markets.
Lower Daribi in the Karimui-Nomane district of Chimbu is one of those remote places that has seen worst days in terms of farmers unable to reach the markets.
Negabo is the only airstrip that is currently serving 13 council wards in lower Daribi in the Karimui-Nomane district. Coffee farmers from lower Daribi walk for two hours to Negabo airstrip to get on a flight to Goroka. Other times, when there are no flights, people walk for up to four days to Gumine, then pay for a K40 ride into Kundiawa town.
Helen Vitis, is a women council representative in the lower Daribi. Air transport has been her only mode of freighting coffee in the last 17 years.
She said that most flights do not allow bags of coffee to be loaded. A charter flight costs close to K5,000, which is way over what farmers can earn from sales.
“We lose hope and neglect our coffee, harvesting only one third of the coffee as there is no reliable way out of Negabo, Vitis said.
Ruth Dua, a local from lower Daribi, expressed concern that sometimes coffee is bought at a low price of 20 toea to a kina per kilogramme at Negabo.
“Freight costs are so high so we burn all the coffee that remains over time in the storage areas, “ Dua said.
In 2014, Vitis approached the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) office and sought assistance under the freight subsidy scheme (FSS).
“I am happy that through the government’s support through CIC, our farmers and I can at least get something out from our sales compared with 17 years ago when I had to meet all the upfront costs of air freighting coffee,” she said.
On a recent chartered trip to Negabo, through the CIC coffee freight programme, 20 bags of coffee were air freighted to Goroka.
The bags were carried by mothers from upper and lower Daribi to Negabo airstrip.
Like many remote places in PNG, Daribi has a suitable climate and soil. Coffee is their main cash crop and peanut and rice are also grown and sold to earn an income.
Coffee freight officer Ben Lohe told the people of Daribi that farmers can expect help.
“We must be thankful that the national government’s intervention with funding support to CIC, the programme has expanded and is now be able to freight as many bags of coffee as possible to the markets from serviced airstrips.”
He explained that transport problem areas are now considered economic corridors by the government and have potential to be developed to contribute meaningfully to the livelihoods of people and the economy of the country.
From 1999 to 2011, CIC has been implementing the programme from an internal budget when assistance came from the government which boosted the programme to reach out to more rural communities.
Chief executive officer Charles Dambui highlighted that between 2012 and 2015),  more than 1000 tonnes of coffee parchments had been freighted, benefitting 81 grower groups and 40 individuals from airstrips and jetties in the area.
The CIC coffee freight programme aims to facilitate market access from the remote areas by assisting in transporting coffee to the nearest marketing depots, facilitating processing and marketing on behalf of coffee growers.
Creating market for the locals enhance business and raise their standard of living.