By Scott Waide – EM TV News, Port Moresby
A new and exciting challenge for Morobe cocoa farmers to maintain consistent quality has emerged, following international recognition of the cocoa quality produced by farmers along the Watut River.
The International Cocoa Excellence Award was given to Watut farmers in France, last October.
Watut cocoa was pitted against the world’s best producers from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The last five years had been a time when Morobe farmers have reaped what they sowed over the previous decade. In cooperatives, they have worked towards producing volumes to meet international export requirements.
Now the challenge is to maintain that quality.
With the onset of the cocoa pod borer disease, cocoa production dropped significantly throughout the country, with East New Britain among the worst hit and its crop decimated.
Central bank figures show a drop in production in 2012-2013 period reflecting the impact of the disease. But since 2014, cocoa producing provinces have seen recovery in the industry.
One of the biggest problems affecting cocoa exports is transportation. Many of the farmers are located in remote parts of the country say that getting their crop to a market can take days.
In Morobe, cocoa production is expected to rise as extension work is revived by the PNG Cocoa Board.