Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lower Watut cocoa farmers get help from MMJV

A cluster nursery group tending to their hybrid cocoa seeds nursery at Mafanazo village, Lower Watut
Morobe Mining Joint Ventures, Hidden Valley mine has embarked on an intensive cocoa development and extension programme in the Lower Watut River communities aimed at establishing higher yielding crop varieties. The programme was initiated last year utilising partnerships with other service organisations and community service organisation, Bris Kanda Inc, and is set to benefit an estimated 900 farmers by building on and improving the existing work done by previous service providers.
Since June 2010, MMJV’s community sustainable development (CSD) agricultural team in consultation with the communities has helped to reorganise all existing cocoa groups’ farmers groups and emerging farmers under a cluster group system, where central nurseries are set up in each village to serve the planting material needs of the farmers.
According to a study facilitated by Bris Kanda, well over 90% of cocoa production in the Lower Watut impact region is based on low-yielding variety introduced in the colonial days.
With the cluster groups approach, it is envisaged that high-yielding cocoa varieties will be introduced and established, gradually phasing out the low-yielding variety that is currently grown.
Under the programme, over K120, 000 has already been injected into supporting this programme.
Some of these funds were used to provide materials to the 26 cluster groups comprising an estimated 900 farmers from 13 villages, to construct nurseries.
High yielding cocoa variety seeds from Cocoa and Coconut Research Institute (CCRI) at Murnas in Madang are also distributed to each group on a monthly basis.
To date 100, 000 hybrid seeds have been purchased with 61,000 distributed and established so far.
In addition, 100,000 polybags, 50 rolls of shade cloth and four cartons of nails were purchased and distributed for the construction of the 26 cluster group’s nurseries. Pruning and budding tools (six pole pruners, 10 secateurs, 10 punning saw, 58 budding knives and 594 budding tapes) were purchased and will be distributed during a field budding and training programme to be conducted in each of the villages which commenced in late February this year.
Already, further plans are in place to purchase an additional 50,000 polybags for the purpose of raising root stocks for budding superior clones.
This approach will assist the 26 cocoa cluster groups to raise and establish 150,000 high-yielding cocoa varieties in the farmer’s field in the first 12 months of rolling out this programme.
Each group has also been assisted with setting up bud wood gardens of 200-plus stands to provide bud stick requirements for a superior clone budding programme to be undertaken in the future.

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