DESPITE the oil and gas boom in Southern Highlands, the people of Lai Valley in the Mendi district are instead turning to coffee as a sustainable income generation activity.
The 50ha Komp Coffee plantation is being rejuvenated by landowners comprising old and young men and women.
They did not waste time to dash into the plantation with their bush knives and axes and began the rehabilitation process after practical demonstration and training on coffee rehabilitation was shown to them by CIC officers.
Chief executive officer of the Coffee Industry Corp Navi Anis expressed great satisfaction in the swift manner in which the landowners embraced and showed their newly- acquired coffee skills.
“It is one of CIC’s current strategies to increase coffee production in PNG and CIC aims to work closely with farmer groups like the Lai Valley farmers who are willing to contribute and to help themselves,” Anis said.
He said CIC provided a number of services and training to willing farmer groups in progressive stages, starting with participatory rural appraisal programmes, coffee training, bookkeeping, mobilisation of a farmer group, as organised production and marketing units.
The Komp plantation was managed by the former Southern Highlands development authority and was abandoned for some 20 years due to high cost of farm inputs and labour, poor management and criminal activities along the highway.
The rehabilitation activity came about as a result of the awareness carried out by CIC, the local NBC radio and the Southern Highland Smallholder Coffee Growers Association.
A group leader said in pidgin “oil na gas em blong ol lain long Hela region. Mipela em nogat narapela wei, so mipela mas go long graun na stap wantaim kofi”. (Oil and gas is for the Hela people, we must work on the land and remain with coffee.)
The plantation is now fully rehabilitated, including plantation roads.