The programme will collaborate with the private sector, PNG firm Paradise Foods Ltd, to develop sustainable and inclusive cocoa agribusiness in the East and West Sepik provinces for the benefit and inclusion of smallholders.
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is paving a way forward for this collaboration and took place at Wewak Boutique Hotel, East Sepik, at 9am on Thursday 26 November.
The purpose of the MoU is to provide a framework for areas of cooperation and activities to be undertaken collaboratively, such as supporting local and more inclusive and sustainable cocoa production value chains in the programme area. Paradise Foods is the only PNG company processing cocoa into semi-finished and fine chocolate products (Queen Emma) in PNG, both for the national market as well as for export.
This collaboration will enable the development of better market linkages and sustainable agribusiness in the cocoa supply chain for smallholder farmers, including women and youth in STREIT implementation areas. Areas of cooperation will also include quality improvement at fermentary and trader level as well as better market access and the development of relevant certification schemes for smallholder cocoa producers.
“The EU Delegation is investing in the development of local agripreneurs and enterprises through the STREIT programme and we look forward to more partnerships of this kind to ensure long term sustainability of the agriculture and food sector in the Sepiks initially and more broadly in PNG,” said René Mally, Head of Cooperation, EUD.
STREIT in collaboration with Cocoa Board and East Sepik Provincial Department of Agriculture and Livestock has already commenced cocoa propagation (budding) trainings with distribution of over 40,000 Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) tolerant seedlings to over 10,000 growers. This number will increase significantly next year through local nurseries and bud gardens.
STREIT PNG is an EU co-funded programme implemented by the United Nations in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea in East and West Sepik provinces. It is the largest grant-funded programme of the European Union in the country and in the Pacific sub-region.
Attending this important occasion were James Rice, Group Chief Executive Officer of Paradise Foods Ltd; Rene Mally, First Counsellor and Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation, Papua New Guinea; Ken Shimizu, FAO programme officer; representatives from other UN agencies partnering with FAO to implement STREIT, Government of Papua New Guinea representatives; governors of East and West Sepik provinces with their provincial administrators; the Cocoa Board, agribusinesses, community leaders and cocoa agripreneurs and farmers.
(Following the signing, all participants, including GoPNG representatives, took part in field visits to see firsthand a cocoa propagation training at Saure Village, a cocoa nursery set-up and bud wood garden at Yuo village and a cocoa fermentary at Hawain, all in Wewak District, East Sepik Province)