By SOLDIER BURUKA of DAL
A 10-year strategic plan is to be launched as part of the government’s efforts to combat the spread of the cocoa pod borer (CPB) infestation in the country.
Relevant government agencies will work closely with the private sector, provinces, industry groups and farmers to implement the strategic plan as from this year.
A concerted effort by all stakeholders including adequate funding is vital to make the plan work, as the government is determined to boost cocoa production to 100,000 tonnes by the year 2015.
Despite the spread of CPB, the industry has achieved a new record in production of 59,350 tonnes for the 2008/9 cocoa year.
CPB was first reported in
East New Britain province
in 2006 and has since been detected and confirmed in seven cocoa-growing
The latest confirmation is from
in Manus province. Baluan Island
At the same time cocoa is making inroads into the highlands region with new plantings in Simbu and Western Highlands provinces.
The plan was revealed at a recent meeting of the national CPB steering committee held in
Officials from the Cocoa Board, PNG Cocoa Coconut Institute, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, East New Britain, Madang,
New Ireland, and two companies, Agmark Pacific Ltd and
Monpi Cocoa Exports attended the meeting.
Provincial representatives in particular were happy with the news saying that more positive action with funding and resources were needed to tackle the CPB problem.
Cocoa Board acting chief executive Lauatu Tautea said the plan would involve the active promotion, facilitation and the adoption of CPB management practices including the integrated pest and disease management (IPDM) technology as a way of reducing CPB infestation and sustaining cocoa production.
The strategy will include training and awareness on the CPB management technology, provision of essential tools and chemicals.
He said the support of stakeholders including private companies and service providers was essential in the overall success of the plan.
“Of paramount importance is the sustainability of the project which is anticipated to be achieved through training as well as from farmer support activities,” Tautea said.
“Adoption of good practices by cocoa farmers in growing, producing and processing of cocoa at the end of the day is most important.”
Tautea said that if CPB was not contained and managed effectively it would result in huge economic losses which would give rise to other social problems.
Officials from the provinces were happy with the news and requested that funding be made available quickly for the programme to commence.
Private sector representatives said it was a positive move by the government and stressed that they were ready to work closely with key agencies to fight the CPB problem.
They said the private sector was already working with cocoa farmers in areas such as setting up of nurseries and conducting farmer training.