From MALUM NALU in Goroka
Papua New Guinea coffee farmers are set to benefit from a massive US$46.3 million project which was launched today in Goroka today(Tuesday, April 12).
Funded by the World Bank, government of PNG, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and sources within the private sector, the 'Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project' (PPAP) aims to improve the livelihoods of rural communities by assisting coffee farmers.
Hundreds of smallholder coffee growers from Western Highlands, the new Jiwaka, Chimbu and Eastern Highlands provinces packed the Mark Solon Auditorium at the University of Goroka for the launching.
Many, however, were disappointed when they found out that this was not going to be free money for them, as the project will be professionally-managed on World Bank principles with jobs to be contracted out.
The crowd and speakers became emotional at times as they shouted down the government's controversial National Agriculture Development Plan (NADP) and "paper farmers" of Waigani, whom they said had been stealing their money for far too long, with the new project being a real blessing for the industry.
"NADP is for the rich, fat and computer people," Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) board chairman James Korarome, also chairman of Eastern Highlands' smallgrowers', told a cheering crowd.
"The 'paper farmers' are thieves.
"The NADP funds have all been stolen.
"I believe this PPAP is for the small growers in the village."
The animated crowd also heard presentations from CIC chief executive officer Navi Anis, Department of Agriculture and Livestock acting deputy secretary George Mosusu, various World Bank and IFAD representatives, exporters' chairman John Edwards, processors' chairman Jerry Kapka, plantation representative Max Kumbamong, Western Highlands' smallgrowers' chairman Peter Kewa and Jiwaka smallgrowers' chairman James Koimo.
Yesterday's coffee launching was preceeded by the cocoa segment in Kokopo and Buka last week.
Breakdown of funds was not announced in either Kokopo, Buka or Goroka, however, it is understood that bulk of the money will be pumped into coffee.
"The World Bank has seen the need of the coffee industry in this country," Korarome said.
The PPAP will focus on areas dependent on coffee such as Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, Chimbu and the new Jiwaka provinces, with possible expansion to other areas subject to review.
The coffee segment aims to undertake a number of measures to support smallholder coffee farmers including: strengthening links between smallholder farmers and agricultural businesses; increasing access to farming technologies and services; improving coordination of agricultural institutions; providing critical infrastructure for market access; and enabling the introduction of efficient and sustainable farming techniques which will lead to increased smallholder income.
The six-year PPAP project will be implemented by DAL; CIC; and Cocoa Board.
Total project costs are estimated at US$46.3 million.
These costs will be met through the International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$25 million, an IFAD loan of approximately US$14 million, additional financing from the government of PNG (US$1.5 million), and contributions from the private sector (including smallholder farmers) of US$5.8 million.
The project, which was approved by the World Bank's Board in April, 2010, is a product of extensive consultations with community representatives, local level government, grower associations and co-operatives, youth and women's groups, extension workers, the private sector, and other key stakeholders.