by Theckla Gunga – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Income generated form coffee and cocoa exports here in Papua New Guinea will continue to decline, due to the ageing commercial trees and the change in climate temperature.
Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Tommy Tomscoll, highlighted these concerns at the Waigani Seminar held in Port Moresby last week.
“There is a decline in the coffee sector and that is the same for cocoa and copra,” Tomscoll said.
Tomscoll also said that the coffee and cocoa trees that have been producing commercial beans over the last 30 years were ageing, and can no longer be expected to produce to their full capacity.
While local cocoa and coffee growers continue to commit themselves to growing these commodities, weather conditions remain a major factor in terms of the quality of product being produced.
Since the introduction of coffee production to Papua New Guinea, 95 per cent of product exported has been Arabica (the finest quality of coffee beans), while only five per cent was Robusta (a lower coffee quality).
“An Arabica coffee tree will produce to its full potential in a climate temperature of 14 to 24 degrees Celsius, but because the climate has become warmer the areas now where these trees are growing have a temperature of 32 to 37 degree Celsius.
“As knowledgeable people, you should know that that climate is not suitable for that tree to produce a quality product,” Tomscoll said.
It takes at least 10 years for a coffee or cocoa tree to reach maturity and to produce to its full potential.
“If we don’t start planting, we cannot expect this sector to grow,” Tomscoll said.
However the agriculture and livestock department is yet to establish a replanting program across the country in order to replace these ageing trees.