Cooperatives can assist smallholder coffee growers boost coffee production

by PNG Business News - July 07, 2022

Photo credit: Coffee Affection

Coffee has been one of the most important agricultural commodities that contributes to Papua New Guinea (PNG) economy. It contributes to the livelihoods of almost three million people in the country. However, since the closure of several plantations in PNG, coffee production has continued to decline. Though coffee production in the country is currently driven much by smallholder coffee growers they face several challenges.

National Research Institute (NRI) Spotlight Volume 15, Issue 7: Cooperative is the way forward for smallholder coffee growers in Papua New Guinea by Research Intern Joecy Kabiu, highlights how coffee cooperatives can be used to address some challenges faced by smallholder coffee growers.

Ms. Kabiu reported that “through cooperatives, smallholder coffee growers can be assured of higher production, better-quality coffee, and better returns”

Coffee cooperatives in PNG also face challenges that hinder their growth, which resulted in the demise of some cooperatives. The challenges can be addressed using holistic approach that involves all key stakeholders in the coffee industry.

Government at all levels should consider doing more to encourage smallholder coffee growers to establish effective and efficient cooperatives to move coffee industry forward to the next level.

 

Article courtesy of National Research Institute



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From 2012 to 2017, coffee accounted for 27% of total agricultural exports and 6% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). It helped PNG's economy in a variety of ways, including transportation, construction, manufacturing, retail and wholesale, insurance, and banking. Arabica is a coffee species that is widely grown in PNG, mostly in the Highlands between 700 and 2,050 meters above sea level. Robusta is grown in coastal areas of PNG at elevations of up to 550 meters above sea level. PNG produces high-quality, fine-flavour Arabica coffee, which is highly sought after by coffee drinkers. Coffee production in PNG, on the other hand, seems to be decreasing. Between 1998 and 2018, according to a survey by AECOM (2018) on PNG coffee market research, exports fell to 934 60kg bags. In the foreign market, the price of coffee has also been falling over time. The implication is that, since the two components of coffee revenue (output and price) to producers are decreasing, the revenue would decline over time, resulting in significant consequences for the producers and the PNG economy. Results of study In Papua New Guinea, the annual area of coffee fields cultivated ranges from 41,000 hectares in 2002 to 87,000 hectares in 1999. In PNG, the area of coffee fields cultivated decreased by 33% from 81,000 hectares in 1998 to 54,000 hectares in 2018. When compared to the smallest area of coffee field harvest among the top five nations, PNG's largest harvested area (87,000 hectares) is 71% less than the smallest harvested area (220,000 hectares). The amount of coffee beans processed has decreased by 28% from 81,000 tonnes in 1998 to 58,000 tonnes in 2018. It's worth noting that there was no data available for 2008. Over the course of the research, PNG's annual coffee production was lower than that of the top five coffee-producing countries. Vietnam had the most coffee harvested per hectare of the top five coffee-producing countries. It jumped from 1,875 kg/ha in 1998 to 2,612 kg/ha in 2018, a 39 percent rise. Brazil harvested 816 kilograms per hectare in 1998 and 1,906 kilograms per hectare in 2018, a 134 per cent rise. Findings from a literature review on key challenges to coffee production and processing in Papua New Guinea The following are some of the obstacles to coffee production and processing in PNG: INADEQUATE access to basic infrastructure and facilities – Smallholder farmers, especially those in rural areas, struggle to find facilities for coffee milling and storage. There were no decent roads for transporting agricultural supplies and goods to and from their coffee fields. FARM management activities – Most coffee trees have reached the end of their economic sustainable life cycle, resulting in a decrease in crop yield. Producers postpone or fail to perform required coffee husbandry activities such as daily pruning and the planting of shade trees. REDUCED YIELD AND Uneven PRODUCT QUALITY – The quality of coffee produced in PNG is deteriorating. INADEQUATE extension services – Coffee farmers, especially smallholders, need education on modern coffee production methods. They, on the other hand, often find it impossible to obtain services from extension agents. TECHNOLOGY – Modern technology can help coffee farmers increase productivity and increase the appeal of their commodity. Coffee farmers in PNG, on the other hand, often lack modern technologies, which limits their ability to reach their full potential in the coffee industry. CHANGE IN CROPPING Trend – Due to a drop in coffee market prices or problems with access to coffee processing facilities, some coffee farmers turn all or part of their coffee fields to other more cost-effective crops. The turn to other crops may also be due to labour shortages for essential farm tasks including pruning coffee trees and picking coffee beans. PESTS and diseases – Other threats threatening coffee production include the coffee berry borer, coffee leaf rust, coffee green scale, and pink disease (DAL, 2020). UNFAVORABLE MARKET PRICES – The price paid to smallholder coffee farmers is often less than the rate paid to exporters. Smallholders are also discouraged from paying attention to required farm activities, which has an effect on coffee productivity. FINANCIAL ACCESS – Certain coffee farmers choose to grow their farm or buy coffee processing equipment. They, on the other hand, frequently have difficulty obtaining loans from commercial banks. ACCESS TO LAND FOR COMMERCIAL COFFEE PRODUCTION – A wide area of land is required for commercial coffee production to be productive, particularly in terms of economies of scale. 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