Cocoa Farmers Have Better Access to Markets
With the resealing and the road maintenance project to start next year on the New Britain Highway from Kokopo to Bitagunan, Cocoa farmers in East New Britain (ENB) will have better access to markets.
This follows after the PNG-Australia partnership has awarded a K9.3 million contract.
According to the Australian High Commission, connecting farmers has been the prime focus in the partnership road maintenance programme, delivered through the Department of Works.
Communities in Gazelle have reported an annual increase in cocoa production, delivering exciting opportunities for farmers in the region and putting attention to the significance of road repair in the area.
Moveh Apelis, who had farmed cocoa in East New Britain for the last 45 years, said that there had been a rise in the last five years. He is now supporting 1,000 local cocoa growers as the lead farmer with productive partnerships in agriculture.
“At Kerevat alone, in 2016, Agmark recorded 6,000 bags of cocoa. In 2017, it jumped to 9,000 bags and from 2018 it jumped up to 20,000 bags,” Moveh said, estimating that for the past two years in 2019 and 2020, the production of cocoa in Kerevat had increased from 20,000 to 30,000 or 40,000 bags, which translates to 2,500 tonnes.
“With increasing production, improving access to markets is essential, ” he said. “If farmers are travelling on good roads, it should reduce the cost of transportation and support us to get a cleaner product to the market.”