Country’s Leading Cocoa Producing District to limit foreign middlemen in the buying process
by Paul Oeka - January 30, 2023
Photo credit: Paga Hill Estate
The Yangoru-Saussia District in the East Sepik Province is undergoing a phase of significant and progressive transformation as local farmers will benefit from a direct cash injection that will see a new revolution in cocoa production.
Currently, the Cocoa Board has reported that the district produced 9,000 metric tons of cocoa in 2022, the highest in the country. East Sepik produces 15,000 metric tons of cocoa in total, counting its the other six districts.
Given these overwhelming statistics, farmers have become victims of middlemen who facilitate the exports of dry cocoa beans. Just recently, a landmark board decision by the Yangoru Saussia District Development Authority (DDA) was made in a meeting in which they agreed to part ways with all the middlemen.
Yangoru Saussia DDA Chairman and local MP and Minister for International Trade and Investment Richard Maru said foreign middlemen who have been buying and exporting cocoa in the district are the ones who benefit the most financially from the hard labour of local farmers.
“So now we are working to create and implement solutions to cut off any interference from foreigners in the buying process from these foreign parties for local farmers to enjoy the benefits of their labour,” he said.
MP Maru added that the landmark decision regarding cocoa and vanilla was made also during the DDA meeting, based entirely on the survey carried out and fully funded in all 96 council wards of the district.
"Our District is the first in the province and possibly the country to undertake a first-ever detailed agriculture survey with particular focus on cocoa and vanilla production,” Mr. Maru said.
“Yangoru Saussia is currently producing 60 percent of East Sepik cocoa, as per the cocoa board’s statistics. East Yangoru alone produces over 50 percent of the district's cocoa and 30 percent of the province’s cocoa,” he added.
“Under the current business arrangement, foreign middleman export companies are still the winners from the toil and sweat of our farmers. Our decisions regarding cocoa have been to cut off the foreign middleman and to transfer the saved margin to our farmers through value-added increase prices," Maru reiterated.
According to the resolutions passed, YSDDA will invest K500,000 into Ninire Agro Investment Ltd (NAIL), a business arm and a subsidiary company of the district.
The company will then be in partnership with Innovative Agro Industries (IAI) and possibly with Kumul Consolidated Holdings (KCH) and will start buying cocoa from local farmers.
The people of Yangoru Saussia will also be eligible to buy shares in the company in which the board has already nominated the founding directors and will be managed by Innovative Agro Industries.
“YSDDA will also invest K500,000 to replace all wood fire cocoa fermenters so that solar dry quality cocoa beans can be introduced which will be able to fetch premium prices,” Mr. Maru said.
“To start, we will control and focus more on quality, which is to remove wood-fired fermenters and maintain the 100 percent organic stallholder farmers' production status. The next stage will be to process our own high-quality Sepik fresh chocolates and other by-products from our own cocoa,” the minister stated.
“In 2020, the national government had given each district K2 million in Covid-19 funding with guidelines that 50 percent of this funding will be spent on agricultural activities, 25 percent on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and the other 25 percent on SMEs,” he added.
“The YSSDDA board had resolved that the agricultural component of K1 million will all be invested in cocoa to increase production, improve quality, cut off foreign middlemen, and improve prices and full ownership by our people.”
“We are expecting our increase in cocoa production to 18,000 metric tons per year, which will increase earnings from the current K55 million to over K100 million per year going directly to local farmers," Mr. Maru said.
According to data collected from one of PNGs biggest food manufacturing companies, Paradise Foods has been using only 2000 metric tons of cocoa per year to produce the Queen Emma Chocolate brand.
This gives way for a potential shift to downstream processing for the Yangoru Saussia District with their proposed production target of 18,000 metric tons of the best quality soar dried cocoa annually.
Meanwhile, the agricultural survey that was carried out in the district also revealed statistics on its vanilla production.
The findings showed that vanilla has about 6,918 farmers who produce 83 metric tons of sun-dried and cured vanilla beans, which produce a revenue of K25 million per year.
“For cocoa and vanilla alone, Yangoru Saussia generates over K80 million per year. We aim to double that production and increase earnings to over K100 million for cocoa and K50 million for vanilla per year. As mentioned, this is the first ever cocoa and vanilla research and survey undertaken by a provincial district,” the minister said.
The reports and recommendations highlighted in the survey will be used for planning in partnership with UNFAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization), private sector investors, and other stakeholders to improve the cocoa industry in Yangoru Saussia and East Sepik Province,” Maru said.
The YSDDA has also agreed to make key interventions – a district cocoa and vanilla policy, farmer mobilization, memoranda with key stakeholders, central processing and marketing center with capacity building of farmers and extension officers, and an agriculture resource and service hub to support and coordinate the systems to be implemented.
“Apart from investment in helping to build more nurseries in the district to produce cocoa seedlings, we will be embarking on a new program to improve the production of yields per hectare for individual farmers working through the cocoa co-operative society network in our district. We want to focus on increasing the yield per hectare," the minister.
“East Sepik Province once had K5 million internal revenue, but it had increased to K15 million and is still climbing. How are we climbing when we have no mine? We are climbing on the back of cocoa and other agricultural produce,” Maru said.
The people of Yangoru Saussia district now must increase cocoa production by replacing old senile trees and planting new cocoa plots to see the investment in its business arm Ninire Agro's progress, he said.
PNG Business News - June 07, 2021
K1.2 Million Set Aside For Cocoa Development
In Bogia, Madang Province, K1.2 million has been set aside for cocoa development. This money came from the PNG Cocoa Board, which contributed K600,000, and the Bogia District Development Authority, which contributed another K600,000. Boto Gaupu, the chief executive officer of the Cocoa Board, stated that they are willing to collaborate with the Bogia district to grow coconut and cocoa. “PNG Cocoa Board is serving the same clients and as to the district by working with the farmers at the village level and revive cocoa which was one of the commodities grown in the area for many years,” he said. “We are committing K600,000 to the district of which K100,000 will be initially presented for the purpose of reviving cocoa and other cash crops in Bogia, Madang Province.” The district is also dedicated to working with any government and non-government organizations, according to Bogia MP Robert Naguri, and the cocoa board's involvement will go a long way. He claims that this will assist more than 100,000 people in the provinces of Bogia and Madang. “We are also committing K100,000 through the district development authority and that will help support the initial work to be carried out in the district.” He stated that this is the start of a new path for Bogia, and that the resuscitation of cash crops such as coconut and cocoa in the area will pave the way for socio-economic growth. Reference: Tom, Patrick. Post-Courier (2 June 2021). “K1.2 Million For Bogia Cocoa Development.”
PNG Business News - July 02, 2021
Cocoa Sector to Enhance Standing in International Markets
Photo Credit: Paga Hill Estate According to the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus Programme, the country's cocoa sector is poised to enhance its standing in international markets, due to recent investment aimed at decreasing smoke taint and increasing cocoa quality (Phama Plus). The PNG Cocoa Board is collaborating with Phama Plus to improve possibilities for PNG's cocoa-growing communities. “Through the support of Australia and New Zealand, Phama Plus has been in collaboration with the PNG Cocoa Board since 2015, providing training in innovative farming practices that maximise profitability and income and maintain a sustainable value chain to improve international competitiveness for PNG sourced cocoa,” Phama Plus said in a statement. “PNG is a longstanding producer of high-quality cocoa on the global market; however, due to smoke taint affecting the flavour of cocoa, PNG’s fine flavour status was recently reduced (from 90 percent to 75 per cent) by the International Cocoa Organisation. “This impacted the premiums paid for cocoa and influences the value of trade from international niche and speciality cocoa buyers. “Recently, 57 local farmers and their team leaders in Lower Watut, Morobe and Aitape, West Sepik attended training sessions delivered by Cocoa Board officers on the correct post-harvest practices to better understand key stages of primary processing of cocoa, including harvesting, transportation, fermentation, drying and storage.” Reference: The National (30 June 2021). “New initiative to improve cocoa quality”.
PNG Business News - March 11, 2021
Government Rolls Out K19 Million to Support Cocoa
The government has so far put in K19 million for cost support to cocoa. According to Agriculture and Livestock Minister John Simon, the high-quality cocoa needed to be produced for the price to stay at K3 per kg. He added that last year, it was K10million and this year, K9 million as an incentive to growers to increase production. He said that what was being rolled out now was the K10 million from last year. “This year, the Government has allocated another K24 million (for agriculture price support), of which we have given another K9 million to cocoa, which makes it K19 million,” he said. “This money is for you (cocoa farmers). The money, however, will only be paid when you bring out your cocoa and weigh it on the scales.” He added, “I want to see men and women in the villages who are involved in cocoa, I want to visit them, I want to see that their cocoa gardens are clean, I want to see a good production of cocoa, I want to see happy farmers who are receiving money.”
Paul Oeka - March 27, 2023
Papua LNG project to Minimise Economic Challenges
Photo: Petroleum Minister Kerenga Kua Petroleum Minister Kerenga Kua has recently stated that the Papua LNG project is critical in addressing some of the economic challenges that are currently faced in the country. He said about K75 billion will be generated over a 15 year period when the project is in progress. He added that the initial stages of the project has commenced with K500 million said to be inputted into PNGs foreign exchange capacity in 2023. During a press conference on Thursday the 9th of March, The Petroleum minister highlighted the progressive stages of the Papua LNG project and emphasized the importance and significance of the benefits that the project will provide. According to studies the project life is expected to operate over a 15 year period that will generate about K75 billion and significantly boost Papua New Guinea's struggling economy. "The K75 billion benefit is inclusive of what comes to the state directly as levies, to Kumul Petroleum, to the landowners as royalties and the provincial governments. All of us put together are going to be collecting and sharing that benefit in the next 15 to 20 years", Kua said. Minister Kua said that studies for the Papua LNG project began in 2004 following the discovery by Interoil, the resource estimate is in the range of 6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 98 to 100 million barrels of condensive oil. The benefit of this project is immense and a positive component is the national content which is expected to positively impact GDP, export earnings, forex, revenue to impacted levels of government, landowner benefits and Job opportunities. Minister Kua said the project developer Total Energies will inject K500 million into the PNG economy in 2023. "The Papua LNG project is a project of national significance for Papua New Guinea and will stimulate business confidence and will provide a significant impetus for our economy", "The Marape-Rosso government places high priority on the delivery of the Papua LNG project, we have an improved deal for our people, and improved contribution for our national contractors and workforce. The government strongly supports the Papua LNG project and encourages all stakeholders including project partners to work diligently to deliver the project on time and on budget", Minister Kua said. Petroleum Secretary David Manau was also present at the conference, he highlighted that the petroleum department will work closely with impacted provincial governments and landowners as this is important in ensuring that all stakeholder grievances are discussed and addressed. In light of this, a development forum is expected in the third quarter of this year. Meanwhile, Kua also revealed a unique aspect of the upcoming project which will mitigate the project's carbon footprint and is set to make PNG in becoming the first country in the Asia Pacific region and only the second on the world to re-inject carbon dioxide back into the well pad in a LNG project. He said the re-inspection of carbon dioxide into the well pad is a significant step towards reducing the project's carbon footprint and will help mitigate the environmental impact of the project and contribute to Papua New Guinea's efforts to combat climate change. The Papua LNG project is a joint venture between the PNG government, TotalEnergies and Exxon Mobil. It is one of the largest investments in the country's history and is expected to generate significant revenue for PNG's economy. Total Energies holds 40.1 percent interest in Papua LNG, along with its joint venture partners Exxon Mobil (37.1 percent) and Santos(22.8 percent). The Papua New Guinea government may exercise a back-in right of up to 22.5 percent interest at the Final Investment Decision (FDI) planned by end of 2023 to early 2024 and production will be scheduled for four years later.
PNG Business News - March 27, 2023
WanPNG: The Skills Development and Jobs Platform for the People of Papua New Guinea
Wan PNG is a platform and community dedicated to expanding opportunities for local Papua New Guineans. Its goal is to increase the development and sustainable employment of local PNG talent, so everyone in our great nation can share in newfound resources and growing prosperity. With the goal of empowering individuals and businesses with the skills and people they need to succeed in the 21st century world, the Wan PNG platform spans three core areas for job seekers: Employment opportunities: Gain experience with internships, start earning with entry positions, or upgrade your career with the next big job. Career advice: Advance your career with expert advice and professional resources, and stay up-to-date on the latest news. Education and training: Expand your employment prospects by upgrading your knowledge, skills, and competencies through courses. For employers it provides: Free access to upload jobs and find the best talent. Smart matching between jobs and candidates. Diversity promoting candidate suggestions reaching a wide pool of talent. The platform's primary objective is to promote lifelong learning and employment and simultaneously bridge the skills gap in Papua New Guinea by providing accessible training opportunities to all its citizens. WanPNG believes that by investing in the development of its people, Papua New Guinea can unlock its full potential and become a more prosperous nation. WanPNG is now available for job seekers and employers. Visit the website now at www.wanpng.com to learn more.
PNG Business News - March 27, 2023
St John Ambulance First Aid Training for Workplace
The St John ambulance service responded to over 21,000 emergencies across Papua New Guinea in 2022. In addition to being Papua New Guinea’s main emergency ambulance service, St John is the nation’s leading first aid training provider equipping thousands of workers with essential first aid skills and knowledge. With just one day of training, St John’s expert first aid trainers can equip your workers with the basic skills to handle all kinds of first aid emergencies. Workplace accidents and injuries are a common occurrence and it is essential for employers to have a competent workforce that can respond effectively to emergencies. St John’s workplace first aid courses ensure your workforce is equipped with the first aid training to assist a sick or injured person. It also helps organizations comply with legal requirements, reduce workplace injuries and fatalities and promote a culture of safety and preparedness. The Papua New Guinea St John Ambulance provides training routinely in Port Moresby and Lae, and can facilitate training at any location in PNG, which makes it easy for workers to gain or maintain their first aid qualifications. St John’s first aid trainers come from a variety of backgrounds, enabling them to contribute real-life experiences to the training environment. Each course, based on St John Ambulance Australia’s training resources, goesthrough rigorous appraisal by training and health specialists including St John’s Papua New Guinea’s medical expert advisory panel - made up of some of the industry’s leading physicians and health professionals, who ultimately endorse the clinical training content components of the first aid courses. St John CEO Matt Cannon said, “this rigorous appraisal process gives clients the confidence of St John’s commitment to delivering the highest quality in training content and delivery in Papua New Guinea.” Workplace first aid courses cover a broad range of topics, including basic life support, wound care, bandaging, splinting, CPR and using an AED. Participants learn how to identify and manage different medical emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes, burns, fractures, and poisoning. Each training program is designed to be flexible and can be delivered on-site or at one of our training centres. If you want to ensure that your workplace is prepared to respond to emergencies, contact St John today to learn more about our workplace first aid training.