by Edwin Fildelis – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Cocoa farmers in Mandress, in the Inland Baining area of East New Britain, are disgruntled after an oil palm developer destroyed their cocoa trees without any notice.
Most of the farmers who rely on cocoa farming as an income source have been forced to plant oil palm.
Caroline Kande, a female cocoa farmer says she makes 3 thousand kina in one harvest but had lost all her 500 cocoa trees when the oil palm developers set in.
Caroline Kande is a female cocoa farmer in the Radingi LLG in the Inland Baining area of East New Britain province.
She owns a little over a hectare of land that she planted with cocoa.
Over the last 10 years, she has been largely depending on her cocoa block for an income to support her family.
But about a week ago, she lost all her 500 cocoa trees after an Asian owned oil palm developer was allowed by a landowner company to plant oil palm on their land.
From this cocoa block alone, she makes around four cocoa bags that fetch her K3,000.
Three months left before her next harvest and all her cocoa trees were destroyed to make way for the oil palm seedlings to be planted.
Caroline has since remained sceptical about the oil palm operation that began six months ago.
She shows me some of the hybrid clones that she recently planted, to replace those that were destroyed during the cocoa pod borer incursion in 2006.
The hybrid clones were also destroyed by the oil palm developers.
The Baining Cocoa cooperative society has made a strong representation of its cocoa farmers.
An assessment has been carried out to find out the costs of the damages.
Its total is expected to run into several millions.