By Jennifer Nkui
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.
“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.