Monday, April 15, 2013

Coffee growers make history in Milne Bay

Source: The National, Monday, April 15, 2013


History was made in Alotau, Milne Bay, last Friday when 55 coffee growers from remote areas of the province completed a weeklong course in basic husbandry practices, agronomy, harvesting, and processing techniques.
Historic, in that Milne Bay is not known for coffee production, although Arabica and Robusta coffee grows well in high altitude areas of Alotau, Esa’ala, Kiriwina-Goodenough, and Samarai-Murua.
Its coffee production is currently zero, although it is known that a small number of people do grow coffee and sell in Lae, but this is not counted as Milne Bay coffee.
The 55 Milne Bay coffee growers with provincial administration and CIC officers after graduation last Friday.-Pictures by MALUM NALU
The training, funded by Milne Bay administration, was organised by its division of agriculture and livestock, facilitated by the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC), and conducted at Bubuletta agriculture station outside Alotau.
The 55 growers, from 16 cooperatives throughout the province, also received pulpers, saws, secateurs, and tarpaulins and challenged with the task of cultivating a hectare of coffee each and putting Milne Bay in the same league as the Highlands provinces.
“Today is an important day for Milne Bay province,” provincial agriculture advisor James Duks said at last Friday’s graduation.
“Coffee is not a crop that can only be grown in the Highlands.
Duks..  'coffee is not a crop that can only be grown in the Highlands’
“It can also be grown in the coastal provinces.
“In Milne Bay, coffee is in fact, one of the most-important crops for the high altitude people.”
Duks said the Milne Bay administration, through its integrated provincial development plan (IPDP) featured coffee as an important crop to promote and develop.
“We want to see coffee production increase to 100 tonnes, but what is the first step towards achieving that?
“The first step towards achieving any productivity is training, empowering our growers, empowering our small men and women who grow coffee in the high altitude areas.
“The set of skills you have learned is the same sort of skills people in the Highlands have acquired.
“Your community will be looking at you to lead them/”
“We (provincial administration) are committed to coffee in Milne Bay province.
“As long as the government gives us funds, we will continue to support coffee and we will want to see more extension patrols.”
Acting chief executive officer of CIC, leading coffee scientist Dr Mark Kenny, said history was indeed being made in Milne Bay.
A historic day for Milne Bay…Dr Kenny with pioneer Milne Bay women coffee growers Lina Tutuna (Kaneo Cooperative, Daga LLG, Alotau), and Beatrice Alwyn (Kutu Cooperative, Daga LLG, Alotau) last Friday.-
“This is the first such graduation in the coastal areas that I’ve attended,” he said.
“All the other graduations that I’ve attended have been in the Highlands.
“If it wasn’t for coffee, we wouldn’t be gathering here today.
“It’s all because coffee has united us, and I think coffee can unite PNG.
“Coffee is grown all over PNG, in fact 16 provinces, so I think that this is one crop that can unite PNG.”

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