Minister: East Sepik cocoa farmers have huge potential

Cocoa farming generated K63 million for East Sepik people over the last 10 years says Agriculture and Livestock Minister Tommy Tomscoll.

He was speaking during launch of the Sepik Chicken, Grain and Cocoa Project at Yangoru Station on Wednesday in East Sepik.

Tomscoll revealed that rural farmers were the largest beneficiaries, pocketing 80 percent of the provincial income on cocoa.  

He challenged them to plant more cocoa trees to increase their income.

“Agriculture is the backbone of the country and helps (villagers) escape poverty by improving their lifestyle and putting money in their pockets.”

The Agriculture Minister predicted that the price of cocoa to increase to K1, 200 per dried bags in 2020 from K600.   

PNG currently exports only 40, 000 cocoa bags to overseas market, which is 1 percent of the world market.

 Tomscoll said with the statistics, the National Government in 2014 allocated K7 million in the nation’s budget to support districts to help their people plant more cocoa trees.

Tomscoll said only seven districts in the country supported the idea, with three from East Sepik.

The Agriculture and Livestock Ministry does the counterpart funding of the same amount that the open MPs put to “district nursery and pre-distribution program”.          

The Yangoru project is located in Wingei, and has already distributed 60,000 cocoa trees from its nursery to farmers.

The nursery currently holds 200,000 cocoa trees.

K1.8 million was spent on the program.  

Wewak and Maprik districts also have this program which is supported by their District Development Authority.

Charles Yapumi