Posts Categorized: Cocoa

Supply and quality drive cocoa price fluctuations in Buin

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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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.

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“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.

 

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Cocoa the backbone for enterprise in South Nasioi

770-cocoa-tree-nasioiBy Gideon Davika

South Nasioi constituency is one of the areas in Kieta district that is a major producer of cocoa for Bougainville.

There are a good number of businessmen who are emerging out from South Nasioi who are bringing back much needed services to the community to meet the basic needs and wants for the locals.

Most of the entrepreneurs within the constituency have a history of once being cocoa growers and have cocoa plantations as the back bone, which supports them towards improving their other small businesses.

One of the businessmen, by the name of Carney, has a wholesale business back in the village and has PMV trucks which operate from South Nasioi to Arawa.

770-cocoa-deliveryHe started his business from a small financial capital which he got from harvesting cocoa from his cocoa plantation.

Carney said that his cocoa plantation has helped him a lot to extend his business from a small trade to a wholesale which supplies cargoes to other small trade stores within the constituency.

Eeko is also another family business that was also started in a similar manner. The company has retail, wholesale and a hardware stores which supply building materials and variety of other hardware goods.

One of the small trade store owner by the name of Vincent Daudee said that local businesses with wholesale stores have made it easier for them to get goods, which they buy from Arawa. He said that the prices are similar to the wholesalers in Arawa and the cost is ultimately cheaper because delivery of the cargo is free.

770-cocoa-treeThere are many cocoa farmers in South Nasioi who harvest huge quantities of cocoa. When the price is good these farmers can as much as K10,000 from dry beans, which they sell it to the local buyers. While some reinvest, most keep the money and others concentrate on such things as building their homes and buying stuff for their families.

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Panguna people cash cropping at east coast plantations

By Leonard Fong Roka

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More people from Panguna are now purchasing land blocks in the east coast corridor of Bougainville, stretching from the Buin District in South Bougainville to Tinputz District in the northern region.

Nearly all these people are moving off to grow cash crops, especially cocoa and food gardening, as a source of income.

“Not a single village in Panguna can be left out if one searches the origins of people now cash cropping in the many pre-crisis cocoa and copra plantations,” said Tumpusiong man Francis Batana.

“There are people from all the villages in Panguna planting cocoa and gardening along the coast.

“In the process many are also marrying into those coastal communities.”

Francis Batana took up a block of land at the old Kuruvina Plantation in 2012. He and his family have built themselves a living hut and spent most of their time there, returning home every weekend.

“Gold panning and its monetary value was shrinking here,” Batana said, “thus I left for Kuruvina in 2012, following other Panguna men who attained land blocks earlier”

“My cocoa trees are now ready to bare fruits and I will reap what I did sow.”

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People from Panguna, using little they earned from alluvial gold panning and other commercial activities especially the now gone scrap metal industry, have ventured into getting land blocks in the hot coastal areas.

“Cocoa grows more healthily down there than here in Tumpusiong and the rest of the Panguna District,” Batana continued.

“Many people were there when I arrived and still more people are coming after me.”

Panguna people can now be found in the Wisai area of Buin District and they are now also buying land blocks in Tinputz District. All plantations especially Arikua, Kuruvina, Tenakau and so on in the Wakunai District have a man from the Panguna District sweating in his block.

“Most of these plantations, left behind by owners, were subject to dereliction and overgrown by bush thus local customary landowners who take possession of them sell small blocks to us, “ Batana said, “so we are now reviving them slowly.”

Nearly all land block owners from Panguna hire vehicles to bring their garden produce for selling at home in Panguna. This development is now another big step forward for the Panguna people who lack farm land and rely on market food and vegetables for their sustenance.

“Those of us at the actual mine site in Panguna have no agrarian land,” Martin Nakara, a PMV truck owner from Guava Village and land block owner in Arikua said.

“So I have a block of land there for cocoa and food gardening.

“I am working Monday to Friday driving passengers from Panguna to Arawa and back. In the afternoon of Friday I and my family go back to the block to garden and work in our cocoa plot throughout Saturday. On Sunday we drive throughout the Panguna mine site and down the Tumpusiong Valley selling baskets of sweet potato and vegetables to the public.”

Martin Nakara’s charges K20 to transport land block owners and their garden produce from the blocks to Panguna every weekend. Most Panguna people employ his truck to travel and ferry goods.

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Big gains possible for Bougainville cocoa farmers

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Bougainville cocoa farmers could comfortably triple their production by using the right planting materials and improving their management practices, according to a leading agribusiness specialist.

Agricultural consultant David Anderson has conducted an Australian Aid funded diagnosis of Bougainville’s cocoa industry, together with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Department of Primary Industries, which seeks to boost output and lift quality at every stage of production. He’s been in Bougainville talking to hundreds of cocoa industry stakeholders – from farmers, to nurserymen, fermenters, buyers, exporters and ABG ministers.

The Cocoa Value Chain Diagnosis is part of a wider strategy to improve the productivity and profitability of key agricultural sectors through the K7 million per year Commodity Support Facility (CSF). The CSF will engage the private sector, encourage innovation and create income-earning opportunities for women and young people.

Mr Anderson said there was a range of factors affecting the autonomous region’s cocoa production, including difficulties in accessing quality hybrids, unmet demand for technical assistance and poor management of the cocoa pod borer.

He said if constraints on the industry were addressed, Bougainville cocoa farmers could substantially increase their production.

“I think they can go from about 200-500kg per hectare, to an average of 1500kg per hectare,” Mr Anderson said.

“But the genetic potential of the clones that are being provided to farmers is even higher; up to 2000kg or even 3000kg a hectare.

“With very good agricultural practices, very good post-harvest management, people can produce even six times what they are currently producing today. So there is tremendous opportunity for increasing household income.”

The CSF, which commences operations later this month, is an initiative of the Governance Implementation Fund, chaired by the Autonomous Bougainville and Papua New Guinea Governments, and supported by Australia and New Zealand.

ABG Primary Industries Minister Nicholas Daku said: “As the Minister responsible for the Department of Primary Industry, I am really happy with the work put into strengthening the cocoa value chain in Bougainville.

“The initiative by the ABG, in partnership with the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government and other development partners, will certainly assist many farmers located throughout rural Bougainville.”

The Australian High Commission’s James Marshall said cocoa was a crucial industry for the autonomous region.

“Around two thirds of the people of Bougainville rely on agriculture, particularly cocoa, for their income,” Mr Marshall said.

“So this is an opportunity for a really inclusive and widespread economic development initiative which will put money into people’s pockets.

“It’s also an opportunity, because it is so widespread, for the ABG to raise significant revenue over the long-term.”

Mr Anderson said while Bougainville’s cocoa farmers were struggling, they were well aware of the challenges they faced and how they could begin to address them.

“Everybody seemed to be very knowledgeable and articulate in terms of expressing what their issues were, in relation to improving the cocoa value chain,” he said.

“It was some very good feedback from those people on what the issue are and what some of the solutions might be.”

Prior to the Bougainville Crisis, the now-autonomous region exported about 30,000 tonnes of cocoa – the highest of any Papua New Guinean province. That fell to just a few thousand tonnes during the Crisis.

Production had recovered to about 26,000 tonnes by 2009, when the cocoa pod borer hit the industry driving production down to about 13,000 tonnes today.

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‘Bougainville Bar’ one step closer as chocolate voyagers land in NZ

Chocolate voyage

The Wellington Chocolate Voyage is nearly over as the traditional Fijian waka vessel, the Uto ni Yalo, and its crew arrived in New Zealand on Sunday 20 October.

The voyagers have brought cocoa beans from Bougainville for manufacture in to a ‘Bougainville Bar’ at the Wellington Chocolate Factory.

The crew spent 29 days on the vessel which included slow days with no wind and other times battles with gale force winds and six metre swells.

“Mt Taranaki Ahoy! 29 days straight is a long time on a Waka. Touchdown in T minus one hour. Hungry and smelly,” said Gabe, one of the crew members, via Facebook as they arrived in New Zealand.

The vessel arrived at Port Taranaki in the city of New Plymouth and were cleared by customs on Monday.

The Wellington Chocolate Factory expects to produce 12,000 chocolate bars using the Bougainvillle cocoa.

The team will now ascertain whether the trip can be financially viable, as  the inaugural trip was only possible with the generous donations of 500 people, who raised over NZ$30,000.

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Cocoa industry needs training and quality improvements

By Ishmael Palipal

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Bougainville is one of the top dried cocoa producing Island provinces in Papua New Guinea and much land in Bougainville used for small scale cocoa plantations which are owned, by the locals themselves.

According to the last years (2014) report on Bougainville cocoa by World Bank , in the 1980s, Bougainville produced the most cocoa of any province in Papua New Guinea. Alongside copra, cocoa this was the backbone of a thriving rural economy. It provided critical income for thousands of people and even today it is still the commodity which people rely heavily on.

According to the World Bank report, Bougainvillean cocoa production has fallen by more than 41% since 2009, reaching its lowest level since the crisis.

David Vaorete from the village of Namatoa has observed that the community’s cocoa gardens turn to jungle because the younger generation largely lacks the skills and knowledge to take cocoa production forward. He suggested that this was caused by people moving away from their customary land, often displaced trying to escape violence and conflict.

“A lot of them did not know how to plant and cultivate the cocoa crops,” Mr Vaorete explained, “so it was done by those who had already learned how to tend to cocoa – mostly elders in the community.”

“The younger generation was not taught how.”

To help the situation David is involved in implementing a new program, the Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) which is supported by World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development and the European Union.

Cocoa and copra plantation near Panguna Mine Access Road in Central Bougainville. Cocoa and copra plantation near Panguna Mine Access Road in Central Bougainville.

The project will engage farmer groups and the cocoa industry to help rejuvenate growers’ gardens.  Several lead partners—including exporters; NGOs or grower cooperatives—have been recruited by the project to help farmers revive cocoa production.

Meanwhile Sunkamap Export, which is involved in buying and exporting cocoa and copra in Bougainville, urged the farmers to deliver quality produce. The management of the company relayed the message through New Dawn FM after having low quality products sold to them.

The management asked all farmers to follow the correct way of fermenting the cocoa and copra, which for the cocoa is between five and seven days.

The management of Sunkamap exports reminded growers In order to export the quality cocoa from the region  foreign objects should be removed from the dried beans before packing and also to bring extra cocoa beans to refill the bags if dirty beans are removed at the buying points.

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‘Chocolate voyage’ to bring fairtrade cocoa to New Zealand

A Fijian vessel, the Uto ni Yalo, will  today embark on a trip to deliver Bougainvillean cocoa to an artisan chocolate producer in Wellington, New Zealand.

The Wellingon Chocolate Voyage has been made possible with the philanthropic donations of 449 people, who pledged over $37,000 NZD on the crowdfunding network Kickstarter.

1 tonne of cocoa beans will be purchased from Bougainvillean farmers and delivered to the Wellington Chocolate Factory, where they will be transformed in to the ‘Bougainville Bar’.

The funds raised will also go towards improving the production facilities of a farming community in Bougainville.

A sailing ship will be used for the entire voyage, recalling the ancient seafaring traditions of the Pacific islands.

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‘Cocoa flush’ sees a good harvest for cash crop farmers in Buin

By Jennifer Nkui

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Buin District in South Bougainville has its good and bad years when it comes to cocoa farming. In the bad years the cocoa yield can be very low, unlike other parts of the region which have greater consistency.

2015 is counted as one of the good years by cocoa farmers in the district, because the quantity of cocoa harvested is much higher than in the previous years.

Since the beginning of this year the cocoa farmers have been busy cleaning their cocoa plantations, harvesting the ripe cocoa pods and drying the cocoa beans.

One such cocoa farmer is my big brother Nigel Nkui.

After graduating as an auto mechanic, he decided to settle back home and look after the cocoa plantations that were established by my late father.

602-cocoa-pod-buinHe told me when I visited him earlier this month that it is cocoa season in Buin and as a result the price of cocoa has increased to K400 per bag.

“Cocoa is hard work but it is good money when it is the cocoa season like now,” my brother told me.

During my short stay at home I was able to see firsthand the bags of dry cocoa beans being transported down to Kangu Wharf for export and also to make room for the new wave of cocoa bags that farmers were still bringing in to sell.

An amazing quantity of cocoa was produced every week and even though I grew up in Buin I have not seen anything like it before. It is also unusual to see cocoa growers selling their wet beans every week.

This was due to the rapid rate at which cocoa pods are being ripened for harvesting.

With this ‘cocoa flush’ (as it is called by my big brother) cocoa farmers like him are able to earn good money or enough money to look after their families, pay their children’s school fees and raise their standard of living.

“Cocoa is the only cash crop that we the village people in Buin can rely on for income and this cocoa flush this year has enabled us to make good money,” he added.

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