Mining Chocolate In Morobe
There is such a thing called ‘Mining Chocolate’ and it is already happening in Morobe Province.
Cocoa farmers from the Babuaf and Lower Watut Farmers’ Cooperative Societies are farming approximately 1200 hectares of cocoa which is harvested and sold every 2-3 weeks.
This provides a regular income to each of the participating farming families equating to over K2.1 million a year.
This was revealed at a memorandum of agreement signing between Cocoa Board of PNG and Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV) September 5, witnessed by more than 500 people.
The Cocoa Partnership MOA was signed at the Wames Budwood Garden and Nursery site in the Babuaf area next to the WGJV’s Finchif Camp. Vice Minister Agriculture, Henry Amuli and Huon Gulf MP Ross Seymour attended and singled out cocoa farming as a great sustainable approach to improving the economic well-being and empowering the people through mining chocolate.
“Cocoa is under my ministry and we are so thankful to have a company like WGJV that is committed to developing or mining cocoa in the region, well before any mining is to take place,” Mr Amuli said.
“These projects like cocoa, coffee, vanilla, rubber and other cash crops, will put money in to the pockets of our people.”
He encouraged more people to get into agribusiness and thanked the Cocoa Board for continuously being innovative in moving the cocoa industry forward through partnerships with public and private organisations.
“You have the potential to have a chocolate factory here. The quality of your cocoa is the best in the country and I believe one day we will see a chocolate factory opened here to supply our country and the world,” he said to the applause of the people. Mr Seymour supported the vice minister’s remarks.
“The Cocoa Board has done a lot of good work in reviving the cocoa industry in Morobe, and we the district want to work more closely with the Cocoa Board and WGJV in enabling access for our farmers to markets,” he said.
Mr Seymour also committed a sawmill kit and tractor to the Babuaf Farmers Cooperative Society and a second tractor to the Lower Watut Farmers Cooperative Society.
WGJV Executive Project Director, Bryan Bailie said the WGJV initiated a cocoa program in 2010 called ‘Mining Chocolate’ in partnership with local NGO Bris Kanda, Huon Gulf District Development Authority, and later the Morobe provincial government, Business 4 Development, and most recently the Cocoa Board.
“We’re proud to advise that under the Mining Chocolate program we have invested more than K1.3 million supporting two Morobe cooperative farmer groups, the Lower Watut and Babuaf Cooperative Societies, with these representing approximately 1200 cocoa farmers in the Wafi-Golpu Project area,” Mr Bailie said.
“Our challenge to the government is to make funding available for downstream processing so that most of our cocoa is not exported as beans but processed here in PNG by businesses owned by farmer cooperatives providing a higher return than what they enjoy now.”
Cocoa Board CEO, Boto Gaupu, presented a new vehicle to the WGJV partnership as part of their commitment to the cocoa redevelopment program.
“This is the first partnership we’ve entered with a mining company. And we’re providing a vehicle and a Cocoa Board extension officer to WGJV to support the cocoa work here at the nursery and beyond,” Mr Gaupu said.
He said under the MOA, the Cocoa Board’s freight subsidy scheme will provide market access and alleviate the high transportation costs incurred on cocoa farmers and help in infrastructure development such as roads for farmers to access cocoa markets, also the signatories will work together to address: the decline and stagnancy in cocoa production faced by farmers due to the Cocoa Pod Borer devastation; implement cocoa best management practices; improve cocoa extension services; and develop the supply of certified quality planting materials.
Continue reading at https://postcourier.com.pg/mining-chocolate-in-morobe/ | Post Courier