New Ireland govt keen to revive cocoa production
The New Ireland government is determined to revive cocoa production in the province after its demise due to the cocoa pod bora outbreak.
Through the Primary Industries Department, cocoa development work was being carried out in nominated wards throughout New Ireland.
The Pilabana Cocoa Growers Association officially launched its cocoa seedling nursery at Panaras, ward 22, Sentral Niu Ailan local level government (LLG) on Tuesday.
Present to witness the occasion were representatives of the New Ireland government including Governor Sir Julius Chan, executives from the economic sector, provincial cocoa board managing director Nason Laki, Rubio Plantation owner Shane Clark, Tikana LLG president Sammy Missen and other stakeholders amidst the local community.
The nursery which was built free of charge by the locals can hold a capacity of 15,000 seedlings supplied by the New Ireland government under its ward level programme.
“We are very determined to see this project succeed that is why we have invested our time and resources into it,” community leader Philip Tutuman said.
“Our vision is to one day export our cocoa.”
Primary Industries director Gideon Bogosia said the project covered three wards and would eventually be commercialized.
“At this stage production volumes in the province are still low.
“We need to produce at least 2.5 million tonnes to be commercially viable.
“Once production picks up one ward can make up to K260,000 a month,” he said.
“Cocoa is life, with cocoa you can buy soap, salt and school fees for your children,” provincial cocoa board manager Nason Laki said.
“With cocoa you can have a decent life,” he said.
Laki said the cocoa beans would also need to be smoked using the internationally accepted process in order to maintain a high flavour rating; the country’s fine flavour cocoa status is in danger of being downgraded from 90 per cent to 70 per cent by September if improvements to the industry are not made.
Sir Julius reminded locals that cocoa was once a major crop in the province and rekindling the industry would also benefit the people in the long run.