Cocoa has been described as a “new light” impacting on the rural inter-land of Morobe province, according to Gurago’s community leader, Patrick Tai of Mumeng LLG, Bulolo district.
Tai was speaking at Wandumi village in Wau on Friday – June 25, 2021 – during the official launching of a brand new one-ton capacity cocoa combination drier valued around K50,000, a new nursery house with 20,000 seedlings (seed garden), and payment of K20,000 in price support to the Wandumi cocoa farmers by the Cocoa Board of PNG (CBPNG).
“Wanpela lait em I kam olsem long Salamaua bihainim nambis na ikam. Taim ol lain long nambis lukluk I kam na em hapim wing bilong em, ol lukim olsem nogat em no lait nating, em bird of paradise ia, em pundaun antap pinis long district,” (It was like a shining light from the coast of Salamaua heading towards the inter-land. When it spreads its wings, everyone realised it was actually a bird of paradise that has landed in the district (Wau-Bulolo) – if this should be the fitting description by a villager of the cocoa expansion and roll out program in Morobe province.
CBPNG Chief Executive Officer, Boto Gupu was the guest of honour at the Wandumi event. He was accompanied by CBPNG senior officers including Mr. Tony Vigil, Anton Ningi, Charles Koel, Francis Irasua, Able Nepre, Tony Katai and others including stakeholder reps such as Mr. David Masani of the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture mining project, NKW, Mainland Holdings, Vitis Industries, CIC, and others.
Tai said gold has been part of Wau-Bulolo’s history and currently people were still panning gold however, “the only project that will change our lives is the cocoa project”.
To other village speakers, cocoa was “God sent…a tree of life” and answer to their misery. They encouraged themselves to grow more cocoa as “you smell cocoa, you smell money” being the beholden.
CBPNG MOMASE regional manager, Anton Ningi said all districts of Morobe were growing and expanding cocoa production except Menyamya.
He said cocoa industry trend in Morobe province indicated an increase over the last five (5) years from an average of 800 to 4,500 tons, generating an average of K30 million in export revenue of which K28 million was paid direct to the small holder sector in the province.
Ningi said Bulolo was a “new growth” district and the success resembled in the Wandumi project proved that CBPNG was doing its job and on track.
From Wandumi the team proceeded to Wau town where Mr. Gaupu cut ribbon and commissioned a new seed garden, a 10,000 seedling nursery and bud wood garden at Wara Muli operated by Mr. Leonard. M Aldan of Aldan’s Family Farm in partnership with CBPNG and NKW.
The National Government has set its cocoa export volume target at 300,000 metric tons by 2030. PNG exports around 44,000 metric tonnes currently equivalent to one per cent only of world cocoa but enjoys a “fine flavour” status all along.
On strategic locations around the country including the highlands, CBPNG officers are working around the clock in delivering seedlings and materials, build nurseries and seed gardens, provide farmer training via its various partnership and district nursery agreements under its cocoa expansion programs to meet the national target and dateline.