The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), under EU-STREIT PNG Programme, in its mission to increase the production of high-quality cocoa that will improve the agribusiness of rural communities in the Sepik, signed agreements with over 30 registered nurseries and now these enterprises are distributing (CPB) pest-tolerant seedlings to the potential cocoa producers in the Sepik region.
The newly boarded partners have been already equipped with nursery set-ups by the Programme that meet PNG Cocoa Board standards. FAO also purchases and covers transportation cost of the supplied (CPB) pest-tolerant seedlings to target cocoa blocks. These partnerships provide opportunity for the nurseries to further nourish in PNG agri-businesses environment, being empowered to engage, provide and meet local demands for cocoa seedlings sustainably.
“We’re engaging farmer groups as service providers to deliver seedlings to their members including youths and women. The FAO under the Programme will purchase these seedlings at the rate of between K3 and K4 per seedling. Transport cost for distribution to farmers who live far from the nursery sites will be paid as well,” explained National Cocoa Production Officer Mr Michael Lames.
“Payment will be made upon satisfactory completion of deliveries that will be followed with field verification where seedlings are actually planted into the ground. The money paid into the groups’ respective bank accounts is to support their operation as a business for the benefit of their members,” added Mr Odrick Urum, the FAO-STREIT Cocoa Production Officer.
Another benefit under this collaboration is the capacity building of group leaders to learn and adopt recommended practices for running agribusinesses. “It is an exciting opportunity for us to learn some new things like how to operate as a service provider which requires quality delivery on a set period or time,” said Mr Wilfred Mombiang who represents a registered farmers group of Saure Village, in Wewak District, that are supported under the Programme.
The Programme has already built the capacity of nursery owners as well as the producers in efficient cocoa cloning, budding and block management and now the Programme take a new step to connect two critical nodes along cocoa value chain by supporting and facilitating the distribution of high-quality inputs from nurseries to cocoa block owners. All these initiatives are part of the EU-STREIT Programme broader workplan to strengthen cocoa value chain actors.
Highlight of Cocoa for Papua New Guinea
The Papua New Guinea, and namely the Greater Sepik region, has excellent agro-ecological potentials to produce valuable agricultural economic crops, including cocoa, and to further downstream agri-businesses activities development.
Cocoa production provides jobs and income for the rural population, which remains predominant throughout Papua New Guinea. In the main regions of production, around 30% of households produce cocoa, while representing 15% of the number of households at the national level.
Around one million people’s livelihoods depend on cocoa. Cocoa in PNG is estimated to grow on 130,000 ha in coastal provinces, as a monoculture or intercropped with coconuts or other food crops.
However, this potentiality mostly remained untapped or under-developed, mainly due to lack of sufficient investment, support and capacity, and insufficient infrastructures, leaving the Sepik region less equipped with resources to progress toward sustainable economic development.
The EU-STREIT PNG, as a UN Joint Programme (FAO as leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region. Being implemented in close cooperation with the National and provincial government institutions, research entities, civil society organizations, and private sector enterprises, the Programme aims to help improve the lives of the people from East Sepik and Sandaun provinces, by focusing on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through improved economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains while strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including the business environment, and supporting sustainable, climate-proof transport and energy infrastructure development.