Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll says growing and harvesting coffee remains the best opportunity for smallholder rural farmers to work their way out of poverty.
He said this at the awards night for the week-long inaugural PNG Coffee Growers’ Cupping competition in Port Moresby on Friday.
“Smallholder coffee farmers work in the informal sector of our economy,” Tomscoll said.
“They make up 85% of the workforce in this sub-sector.
“They generate K400 million annually in revenue and account for the livelihood of three million people.
“Very easily, because smallholders work in the informal sector, they are neglected by government policies, decisions, and actions, as opposed to registered companies that operate in the informal sector of the economy.”
|Part of the large crowd of coffee growers, their families, and supporters who packed the Gateway Hotel on Friday night.|
Tomscoll said the government had already provided assistance through freight subsidies, establishment of district nurseries and seed gardens, increasing quality assurance programmes, and undertaking partnership with the World Bank.
“From early this week, the government sponsored the first international cupping quest staged in Papua New Guinea,” he said.
“This quest has facilitated communication and education between farmers, and farmers and exporters, measured the quality of coffee beans, and most importantly, put monetary value to the cup of coffee.
“It is during cupping quest that new alliances, networks, and business opportunities are founded.
|Family members of Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll showcasing their brand-new Simbai Coffee which is produced from coffee grown by Tomscoll himself as well as smallholder growers from rural Simbai in Madang.|
“The government believes that through the distribution of new coffee seeds for planting, it should lead directly to increased production, should bring new income, and create new employment for the unemployed youths and rural people.
“Coffee farming is the most-powerful lever for reducing hunger and poverty, and improving quality of lifestyle for our people.”
Tomscoll to “think global, acting local” by planting coffee gardens in small family sizes.
“When we depart from here after tonight, I want us to go away having belief in ourselves that we are collectively the future of the coffee industry.
“We will plant coffee gardens in small family size – and we will think big – and as individual families we will act local.
“As families acting together, and collectively, we will create a global business inspired by the idea of family farming and district marketing.”