The National, Thursday 02nd Febuary 2012
By ZACHERY PER
FRUSTRATED organic coffee growers walked for four days carrying their parchment coffee beans into Goroka from the remote Simbari area, in Obura-Wonenara district, Eastern Highlands.
Fifteen men, five women and six children decided to carry 32 bags, each weighing 54kg and walk to Goroka.
Frustrated grower’s representative Ekim Ulako said they had been neglected by successive governments since Independence.
He said they grew a lot of organic coffee but there was no road to take their crop out and that the only way out was through the third level airline operating in the area.
“Air freight charge is around K4/kg, a bag weighing 54kg is charged K216, and with the parchment price of K4/kg, the poor struggling coffee grower is not making any money for their hard work,” he said.
Ulako said they had been hurting since Independence and had seen that there was no hope for them so they decided to shoulder the bags and walk the jungles for four days and nights before arriving at Purosa, in the southern end of Okapa district, and head into Goroka.
He said part of their mission was to approach the Coffee Industry Corporation to seek help in bringing their coffee out.
Ulako said there were more bags of coffee waiting to be airlifted out from the 16 rural airstrips in Obura-Wonenara area.
“There are more than 20,000 bags still waiting to be taken out, however the high freight cost is not helping us at all, our efforts in growing coffee in these forgotten rural areas are wasted,” Ulako said.
Brian Kuglame received the growers on behalf of the corporation in Goroka yesterday and said they would do their best to get the government’s attention to help subsidise freight cost so the farmers could get better returns.
He said the government had to help to promote its poverty reduction measures.
More than 20,000 bags of coffee are stranded at the Boiko, Azinawe, Sindeni, Ande, Usirampia, Waninara, Weibo, Owena, Aziana, Kema, Simogu, Norambi, Simbari and Wiawia rural airstrips.