Gulf backs cocoa redevelopment

The Gulf Provincial Government has expressed its support towards cocoa redevelopment in the province.

In line with the national government’s directive for the agriculture industry, the provincial government is committed to reach the target set for the province, through an agreement signed with the PNG Cocoa Board this year.

The Gulf Provincial Government had initially signed an agreement in 2018 but it was never progressed until it expired.

Members of the Gulf Provincial Executive Council (PEC) accompanied a team of lead cocoa farmers from the four LLGs and several Division of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) provincial officers to East New Britain Province last week to see cocoa development and what has been done in the industry.

Chairman of Economic Services in the Gulf PEC, Wari Eho’o, said the provincial government signed a, MoA and MoU with the Cocoa Board in June, and the first part of this partnership is the trip to East New Britain.

“As part of our commitment under the agreement, we are to plant over 500,000 cocoa trees in Gulf Province, which we have already started in the Kikori and Kerema districts,” he said.

The GPG also signed other agreements this year for development programs for rice, rubber, coconut and coffee.

“It’s a commitment of the government to ensure that where our people can develop the land for these crops, the provincial government must provide the support needed to progress the programs.”

Market accessibility was a major factor towards the downfall of cocoa production in the province thus Eho’o assured that the provincial government will assist with transportation, like boats, to help bring farmer products to markets.

Of the 10 LLGs in the province, cocoa is grown in almost 5 of them.

Another PEC member and Chairman of Assembly Services, Charles Maiu, said the trip has helped them to better understand the role of Cocoa Board and its research station at Tavilo.

“We are inspired by what is happening here and the constraints and difficulties faced by the research station. The onus is on our officers to take this message back and impart to farmers on the ground,” he said.

The Gulf Provincial Government (GPG) has also committed K100,000 to assist Cocoa Board’s REDS station at Tavilo, Gazelle District.

Chairman of Finance in the PEC, Jimmy Pokara, said the government is responsible for providing good roads and markets for the farmers.

“This is possible through the MoAs we have signed with commodity boards in the country, so we are making it our business to ensure our people get back into farming cash crops like cocoa and coffee.”

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