Cocoa is an important cash crop that contributes an estimated K300 million kina or about US$88 million equivalent to Papua New Guinea’s economy.
Cocoa helps sustain around 151, 000 families and provides jobs for up to a million people. Cocoa is grown across PNG in 14 of the 22 provinces with the Morobe Province being one of the major producers.
However, PNG’s cocoa industry has been in decline since the serious outbreak of Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) from 2008. Cocoa exports fell from 52,579 tonnes in 2008 to 33,090 tonnes in 2015.
Despite production increasing to over 40,000 tonnes in 2016, the industry still faces problems with low and stagnant yields, and inconsistent quality.
USAID’s PNG Lukautim Graun Program is working in partnership with Outspan PNG Limited to help improve production quality among women small holder cocoa farmers. This partnership is helping to improve the lives of rural farmers whose livelihoods depend on cocoa and helping to minimize their reliance on forest resources will help reduce the threat to biodiversity in PNG.
Through USAID support, Outspan PNG Limited provides training to women small holder cocoa farmer as well as to provide first aid kits to treat minor injuries. USAID’s most recent contribution includes first aid kits worth over PGK5,700, for 20 women cocoa farmers in Markham and Huon Gulf electorates in Morobe Province.
The distribution of first aid kits is inline with USAID’s Lukautim Graun Program objectives where it aims to improve the conservation of biodiversity and equity among genders in priority terrestrial, marine, and freshwater ecosystems and support women across the value chain in PNG, from farming in rural and remote areas to women entrepreneurs developing new businesses, to women employees and leaders in the formal sector.
“The distribution of first aid kits is important as woman’s health is important to ensuring that the whole household is functioning as it should be. In the event that a mother, for example, falls ill due to farming activities, it affects the whole family due to other roles that the woman play in the family and as such, the first aid kits presented, will contribute to reducing minor farming injuries that lead onto major infections,” said Melinda Thom, Program Manager for Outspan PNG Limited.
“In many scenarios when there are minor cuts, bruises or minor incidents that occur on the cocoa patch, farmers do not seek medical assistance. This can be mainly due to access to health facilities (long distance to reach, work load too much) or that farmers have too much to do that going to a medical facility at times can be seen as waste of their time. These minor cuts or bruise when not treated can get infected which leads on to other issues now that can affect families’ financial loss and emotions stress,” she continued.
Led by Cardno International Development, LGP works in partnership with PNG governments and a range of implementing partners, including Care International, CEFI, The Nature Conservancy, the PNG Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, the Research and Conservation Foundation, the Wildlife Conservation Program, and the Woodland Park Zoo. Additionally, LGP works with the private sector, faith-based organizations, and civil society organizations. The overall objective of LGP is to empower traditional landowners to manage their resources sustainably and empower women as full participants in PNG’s economy.