By Augustine DominicRemote coffee farmers nationwide will receive a steady income of K2.00 per kilogram of coffee in the remaining months of this year when their coffee is freighted under the government funded Coffee Freight Scheme implemented by the Coffee Industry Corporation Ltd.
It was agreed during a stakeholder meeting at the Corporation’s Head Office in Goroka recently that the price of coffee has obviously dropped below or is equivalent to the freight cost per kilogram (kg), thus discouraging the remote farmers to harvest, process and market their coffee.
As a result, the remote farmers needed some sort of incentives to increase their coffee activities and the price support of K2.00 per kg will greatly boost their morale to increase coffee production and quality.
The stakeholders also agreed that a committee compromising their representatives will be setup to provide oversight for the implementation of the CFS.
CIC Acting Chief Executive Officer Anton Benjamin, who chaired the stakeholder meeting, expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the meeting and highlighted the common focus of stakeholders to increase coffee production and quality to meet the government’s plans through such schemes.
He thanked the stakeholders for their continued support for implementing the scheme and urged them to proceed immediately with the creation of the oversight committee and the newly agreed freight support program.
Ian Mopafi of Kenilogo Coffee Cooperative, who proposed the price support idea explained that under the new arrangement, farmers will receive K2.00 per kg as their net coffee income despite the high cost of freight and low coffee price.
He said the government through the CFS and other similar programs should meet the remaining total cost of the freight as a service provision to the remote farmers to compensate for the absence of transport infrastructures like roads and bridges.
Meanwhile, the Director of Agriculture Division in the Eastern Highlands Province, Bubia Muhuzu revealed that the Eastern Highlands Provincial Government has allocated K125, 000 for provision of freight services in the provinces and the CFS can start immediately to utilize the opportunity.
The new arrangement will better serve the disadvantage and remote coffee farmers as explained by farmer Ekim Ulaok from the remote Simbari area with his Marawaka colleagues Philip Narina and Vincent Iworin.
They explained that the farmers bring in coffee from remote communities and pile it up at the nearest airstrips and it has been very discouraging for them to realize that the coffee price is low and most of their coffee income, if freighted will only meet the freight cost and nothing will be left for the farmers.
The meeting was also attended by Agriculture representatives from Eastern Highlands and Simbu provinces, Henry Ame from Coffee Connections, Samson Nopi from Adventist Aviation, Peter Ockofa from Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) Aviation, John Ipi from Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) various coffee processors, CIC staff and farmer groups.