By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio
Fluctuating cocoa prices are creating uncertainty amongst farmers in Buin District.
Buin is the widest part of Bougainville Island and most of the cocoa trees and plantations om autonomous region were found in this area.
About a month ago the price of cocoa in Buin spiked, rising from K400/bag to K600/bag, causing local farmers to earn a good amount of money and see a significant outcome of their hard work.
The two main cocoa buyers in Buin are Bernard Kepa, a local business man, and Agmark, the oldest cocoa buyer. With a notable increase in supply of cocoa, the two buyers have lowered their prices, first to K500/bag then K490/bag, which upset farmers throughout Buin.
Farmers are now worried and some have hesitated to bring dried cocoa beans to Buin and instead are loading trucks destined for Arawa, where they hope to find a higher price.
In Arawa, the current price is K535/bag and farmers have rushed all the way from Buin to sell their cocoa bags.
The most affected farmers were from the mountains of Buin, who are the most recent to start drying cocoa as they have a later season. The season starts from the coast and then reaches the mountains last. Farmers from the mountains were just about to sell their first dried bags, but the price drop has left them fuming.
“The drop in the price may have couple of reasons,” said Konnou Council of Elders chairman Mr Masiu.
Mr Masiu stated that the cocoa sheds in Buin were full last week and they are booking personal houses to store the bags; that might be one of the reasons.
The buyers may also have dropped their prices to reflect a lack of quality in the cocoa market.
The two major cocoa byers have advised local farmers to sell their best quality product to maintain the price. Low quality cocoa beans may cause inconvenience, which makes the product less valuable to the buyers.