Awanas Coffee brand promotes unique culture of Domung people

A COFFEE brand produced from beans grown by remote farmers from Tapen area in the mountains of Rai Coast really raised the eyebrows of visitors recently when it was showcased in Madang.

Awanas Coffee is organically grown in the fertile soils of Maum village in the Rai Coast district. The coffee is grown at an altitude of 1,650 meters above sea level and produced by 302 coffee growing households.

Awanas Coffee made its presence felt in 2014 when it picked up 4th placing amongst other brands in the country during the 2012 PNG Coffee Farmers Inaugural Cupping competition.

What fascinated many who visited the Awanas Coffee booth was its informative label of Awanas Coffee. The label wonderfully promotes the unique traditional attire of the Domung people called ‘Mal’.  Mal is a unique attire proudly worn by males during traditional singsing and cultural events. The attire is only found in the Domung area of Rai Coast district.

Domung is situated right at the top of the Rai Coast mountain ranges overlooking Malalamai sea of Madang. 

Awanas Coffee is normally transported by sea to Madang and further moved by road to Lae for processing and marketing.

The Chairman of the Awanas Cooperative Society, Nelson Waset said smallholder farmers who are members of the cooperative have been working hard to get their coffee to market, and they are thankful to the CIC for its 40-per cent freight subsidy scheme introduced in 2012. The subsidy was applied to the shipment by boat for their produce to Madang.

It was through the farmers sheer determination and the intervention by CIC that Awanas Coffee is now known in the international stage.

Waset added that since there is no road to Tapen, the farmers have had to really struggle in mobilizing their coffee to bring to the market to sell.

He said the farmers have had to carry bags of coffee on their shoulders, or get portion by portion in bilums from the rugged mountains down to a pick-up point where a tipper truck travel up to pick their coffee. 

Waset said the tipper truck was purchased by the rural farmers themselves mainly to assist them transport their coffee from a half-way point up in the mountain down to the coast at Malalamai where a work-boat then loads the bags and transport it to Madang.

“Coffee is the only cash crop in area and all family households rely on it to buy basic needs, such as clothes, store goods, kerosene and other items  to sustain their livelihoods,” Waset said.

The mode of transport had been real tough for these remote farmers. Firstly, the farmers had to carry the coffee bags from their mountain villages to a , from their a dump truck they is used to carry the coffee down to the coast where a local boat from Long Island help to ship the produce to Madang.

Waset thanked CIC for its assistance through the freight surety scheme which has greatly assisted the farmers in retaining a good amount of money which would have been paid on transport.

Photo: Awanas Coffee being displayed at the recent Madang Investment summit. Picture  by James G. Kila

James G. Kila