By Colleen Barilae – UPNG Journalism Student (EM TV, Lae)
Cocoa growers in coastal areas of Morobe have received much needed support to transport their bags of cocoa produce to Lae, with the introduction of the new freight subsidy scheme.
The program was launched today with an agreement between a shipping company, the Morobe provincial government and the Cocoa Board of PNG.
Shipping vessel, MV Goodwill, will be used to transport cocoa bags from Finschaffen, Siassi and Kabwum into Lae city.
It will also be used to service other provinces like Madang and the Sepik in bringing cocoa and other cash crops to their markets.
A truck was also given to the Markham valley produce to assist in bringing in cocoa from Watut and other inland areas.
The newly launched freight subsidy program is an initiative of the Department of Aaaaagriculture and Livestock to assist local farmers from coastal areas in the Momase region.
Since the liquidation of Lutheran shipping, cocoa farmers in Finschaffen, Siassi and Kabwum were facing difficulties in transporting their cocoa to the market.
Morobe itself has the potential of producing 6000 tonnes of cocoa, however in the recent months, cocoa production decreased to 2000 tonnes per annum.
Through the freight subsidy, the cocoa board is confident that production will increase to more than 10 000 tonnes.
The Cocoa Board of PNG and the Morobe provincial government are looking at restoring confidence among cocoa farmers in Morobe province.
Not only are stakeholders focused on increasing the cocoa production of Morobe, but are also aiming to assist farmers in producing ‘high quality’ cocoa beans for the global market.