By Augustine Dominic
Poor road infrastructure is the major hindrance to increased production of Robusta coffee in the East Sepik Province. This was revealed by Chairman of East Sepik Coffee Group, Titus Auna, when dispatching his farmers’ coffee for sale in Lae late last year.
Mr Auna said many coffee farmers are in the rural areas and due to bad road conditions in the districts of Maprik, Wosera/ Gawi, Ambunti/Drekikir and Nuku, they are being discouraged to farm and sell coffee. He said the province has about 46 coffee cooperative groups under the East Sepik Coffee Group which proves the potential for increased production.
He said another factor is the low price level of K1.30 to K1.40 for Robusta coffee. However this has been overcome by the group’s marketing notion, implemented by the PNG Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) recently.
“Group marketing enables us to bargain for higher price and the income is distributed directly to the farmers, who tend to receive a higher income compared to individual coffee sales,” said Mr Auna.
He said the farmers are generally happy with the income from group coffee marketing despite the long delay in getting their funds. Mr Auna said it is very expensive to get coffee from each district in the provincial capital (Wewak) and then to Lae and therefore he urged the government and potential investors to consider setting up a green bean factory in Wewak.
He thanked Maprik MP Gabriel Kapris for supporting the coffee work by allocating a total of K70, 000 for coffee nursery and rehabilitation in his district. Mr Auna said more similar funding into coffee is also need to boost production.
The East Sepik Coffee Group started in 2006 and has reached an annual export rate of about 3000 bags with assistance from the Lae-based Kundu Coffee Exports.