Coffee farmers in remote airstrip serviced areas are in dire need of support and more collaborative efforts in getting their coffees flown into the nearest towns to access markets for better prices.

Niugini Aviation Services, a nationally owned company chief pilot Paul Gueme expressed great concern for coffee farmers in airstrips areas like Negabo, Pinoro and  Karamui in Simbu Province and Maimafu in Eastern Highlands after airlifting 17,175kgs (17.2tons) of coffee from these airstrips last week.

 “I have seen that more coffees are coming out from these remote airstrips and needs more funding. As I was flying into these airstrips last week, tons of coffees were piled up waiting for the next service flight to get them out to sell.”

He added that as a national airline company, they have been involved with the Coffee Freight Program and would like to see that these coffees are freighted out. “The small aircrafts we use a PAC 750 only carries 20 bags at a time and can manage to get more out as we have done this week.” 

Mr Gueme indicated that more efforts in terms of funding is required by the airlines to assist in freighting these coffee out from the airstrips to the markets. Niugini Aviation would like to continue its work to freight coffee in addressing this issue and calls upon the Provincial and National Government to look seriously into putting more funding for this cause in serving these rural communities.

Coffee farmer Solomon Hame of Maimafu in the remote district of Lufa, Eastern Highlands with his coffee bags flown in from the area under CIC’s Freight Surety program last Friday (December 9th, 2016).

Some of the retired staff members and two other staff who have resigned to vie in next year’s elections-Napu Ratumu (7th from left) and Simon Gesip (in blue). Among the group are CIC industry operations Manager Steve Tumae, General Manager for Research Dr Mark Kenny and Human Resource Manager Jackson Pepeto. 


The PNG Coffee Industry Corporation for the first time has retired five of its long serving staff. Among the group of retirees were three other long time staff that are leaving the organization for personal reasons. A small but significant event to farewell all these staff was held at the CIC’s research station in Aiyura on Thursday December 1st, 2016.

They included National Farmer Training and Extension Coordinator Simon Gesip, Farm Manager Napu Ratumu, Simbu Provincial Farmer, Training & Extension Coordinator Mogia Honepe, drivers- Peter Seseko and Waku Keneo and security guards Naba Ena and Banito Uwano.

General Manager for Industry Operations Mr Steven Tumae thanked them all for their services rendered over the years and wished them well in their next chapter of lives.

“You have served the industry with dignity and pride and may God be your guide in your new journeys.” 

Human Resource Manager Mr Jackson Pepeto announced that the retirement exercise done this year was the first of its kind to send off staff who have reached their retirement age.

“CIC has never done this exercise before and for the first time this year, we are sending these staff off on a good note to enjoy their benefits with their families.”

Simon Gesip who started his employment with CIC in February 1993 as an extension officer was all emotional when he shared his success stories at the farewell function.

“I thank God for such an opportunity to serve the industry for the last twenty-three years and nine months. I have gained valuable experience.” Gesip is leaving after doing extension work from the tip of PNG, to the last place of Kelabo in Hela, from Maprik to Gulf, taking away with him the hearts of more than 3 million coffee growers.

“I took pride in CIC colours, protected its image from antagonists, and defended against its oppressors without fear or favour, and I will continue to fight for this organization in my next chapter of life.

Gesip spoke with satisfaction that his experiences in the industry have made him to be a leader, a preacher, a teacher, and a coffee extension specialist. He challenged colleagues that CIC was not an organization to work for money but to serve people, those who are voiceless in the coffee business. “You get a high degree of job satisfaction when you serve with total confidence and trust.” 

He has contributed significantly to some of the following notable projects which are currently operational: Neknasi extension model (2008), Fairtrade certification program (April 2010), partnership with MG Corporation of Japan (2009), initiated community information centre concept in 2011, which has been a popular replicated model to date among cooperative groups, a core member to the PNG coffee competition (2014-2016) and initiated partnership with Bolaven Farms of Laos in 2015.

THE Coffee Industry Corporation’s (CIC) is moving a step further to engage some of its farmers taking part in the industry rehabilitation to integrate honey bee into their coffee gardens.

The introduction of domesticated honey bees will help to increase pollination of coffee cherries and vegetable crops as well.

The corporations’ Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) in its recent Board or Industry Coordination Committee meeting has approved a total of K1.9 million for this purpose.

This funding will be made available to 19 new and existing Lead Partners (up-scaling) under call 4 proposals recently approved by the same PPAP Board meeting in Goroka on October 4, 2016.

“An amount of K100,000 has been included in the budget for each Lead Partner which is specifically for integrating domesticated honey bees into coffee gardens.

“Each Lead Partner will involve between 10 and 15 households,” says Mr Hombunaka.

Mrs Anita Gibson, aged 31 from South Fore LLG in the Okapa District of Eastern Highlands Province, welcomed this new CIC-PPAP initiative with great excitement during a meeting with farmers at Waningato Village on Wednesday 9 November.

“Mi wok long tingting long dispela stap ya. Yupela stap we na nau tasol yupela kam wantaim dispela honey samting ya,” says Mrs Gibson who is married with five children and works as a village court magistrate and women’s leader in the South Fore LLG.

Project Manager Mr Hombunaka explains coffee is a seasonal crop producing cherries every six months. Hence the integration of honey bee with coffee will help to pollinate coffee trees to increase yield with continuous harvesting through the year.

“Coffee growers are also livestock, vegetable and honey bee farmers. The notion is to diversify farmers’ income.  The integration will help to diversify honey bee and coffee farmers’ earnings.”

The CIC Ltd is already embarking on stakeholder partnership in apiculture industry for honey production and pollination services after a government decision in August 2014 to transfer all functions of Research & Development, and Grower Services (Extension) from Livestock Development Corporation to CIC. 

In the field farmers have already been integrating honey bee with coffee farming like in Wau-Bulolo in Morobe Province and Middle Ramu in Madang Province.

Dr Nelson Simbiken of Aiyura Coffee Research says cultivation of coffee with apiculture is a normal practice with high altitude coffee farmers around the world. 

“Some PNG coffee farmers have been integrating apiculture into their coffee farms and have improved their livelihood with the additional income from apiculture. 

“Strategic marketing arrangement may improve sales and maximise added benefits from sales of highly sought after honey derived from coffee farms.” 

Recently in September, CIC-PPAP launched a honey bee integration program in partnership with AAAK Coffee Cooperative Society Ltd in Goroka, a copartner with PNG Coffee Exports Ltd who is a lead partner in the coffee rehabilitation work.

 

“The AAAK Coffee had seen the importance of integrating honey bee into their farmers’ coffee gardens and will get K100,000 as well to begin breeding of honey bees to supply to their farmers,” says Mr Hombunaka.

 

During the launching in Goroka on Thursday 8 September, the Director of Policy and Planning, DAL John Kendiga on behalf of Secretary DAL was delighted to see the policy of transferring honey bee to CIC being embraced and implemented.

 

The Chief Executive Officer for CIC Charles Dambui announced during the launching that AAAK Cooperative will be CIC's Service Provider to breed and supply honey bees to coffee farmers.

Mr Dambui also announced that a portion of land will be made available at Zuguru near Goroka for AAAK to expand its honey bee breeding program.  Zuguru has been acknowledged as the best place to breed honey bee. 

The acting Chief Scientist of CIC, Dr Nelson Simbiken says apiculture industry is an untapped commodity. 

“In all aspects of life, bees sweetens the nature and supports the evolution of plant diversity. Beekeeping in PNG is a cottage industry that is well suited to smallholder farming, particularly in the Highlands.” 

He says to date, Hived honeybee (Apis mellifera) colonies yield about 50 tonnes of honey annually with a value of K1.2 million (AU$300,000).

 This is produced by about 1000 beekeepers, with up to 500 of them located in the Eastern Highlands province (EHP). PNG consumes about 200 tonnes of honey annually, with the difference between demand and supply coming from imported honey. 

“Therefore coffee production can be increased with Apiculture. While Apiculture can provide increased income from direct increased coffee yields, apiculture can also provide an added income for coffee farmers from sale of honey and by products.” 

The main objective of the integrating apiculture into coffee farming system is to develop Apiculture capacity and support for smallholder farmers in both lowlands and highland areas to expand production of apiculture with coffee. Thus increased productivity with the view to increase national Arabica and robusta productions in the medium term consistent with GoPNG’s Medium Term Development Strategies.

The focus of the CIC-PPAP intervention is to improve coffee yield and quality which has declined over the years. At the farmers’ level, it means more income to improve their wellbeing.

The 19 new partnerships under call 4 covers an additional 15,606 households totalling 7,803 hectares.

The PPAP coffee component is a CIC project through the Department of Agriculture & Livestock financed by a loan facility from World Bank (IDA) and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) with support from PNG Government.

The author is Information & Communications Officer for Coffee Industry Corporation’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP).

A female farmer from South Fore LLG in Okapa District of Eastern Highlands Province with her newborn baby has already shown interest in the CIC-PPAP honey bee program.


(L-R) Brian Kuglame of AAAK Cooperative Society and CEO of Coffee Industry Corporation Charles Dambui launching the AAAK honey bee integration with coffee at Goroka in September this year.

The small village of Tibunofi in Kamano 2 LLG of Eastern Highlands province came alive last Wednesday (November 30th, 2016) when it witnessed the launching of a centralized wet processing facility, coffee warehouse and a 100,000 coffee nursery project.

Present at the ceremony were senior officers from the PNG Coffee Industry Corporation, provincial government representatives and the surrounding communities.

Tibunofi coffee cooperative, the 2nd runner up winners of the 2016 coffee competition has proven against all odds that they can sell their coffees directly to overseas markets.

Tibunofi, together with the top four coffees from the coffee competition will be seeing new heights after exporting their first shipment of coffees to a buyer in New Zealand last month.

Manager Farmer Training and Extension Mr. Matei Labun told the community that the concept of forming cooperative was not new to PNG culture but has been part of our lives as far as family and community support is concerned.

He emphasized that a lot of cooperatives that continued with the group’s vision despite the many challenges, lasted and served their members well, which Tibunofi is one of those groups who has come a long way.

“By connecting you (Tibunofi) into the New Zealand market is the start of more good things to come into your community.”

He added that CIC wanted to work with communities who are organized and are always striving to bring out positive changes in their communities.

Tibunofi chairman Mr.Roy Minise said there were a lot of discouragements when the group was formed in 1995. 

“I am very proud today and do not regret putting all my resources into planting coffee.”  Minise and his group currently have 11,700 coffee trees and with the support of CIC, they believe they can fully participate under the Tree to Cup policy.

Minise who left his teaching career of 20 years to give more time to coffee work, said the reason for entering the competition was not with the intention to win but to find out if their coffee had unique flavours.

Tibunofi is expecting approximately one hundred per cent increase in price with this shipment to the New Zealand market.

Fraser Lovell of Coffee Supreme in New Zealand, and also the head judge for the 2015 PNG coffee competition, said since his involvement in 2015, it has been pleasing to see the growing interest in the competition from the coffee farmers as well as the improvement in the quality of the coffee being entered into the competition.

 “PNG has some truly unique cup profiles just waiting to be discovered and think there is huge potential for the specialty market in the future.”


From left: CIC’s Dr Reuben Sengere digging the soil with CIC Farmer Training & Extension Manager Matei Labun and Food Technologist Stilla Frisu cutting the ribbon at the ground breaking ceremony of Tibunofi coffee cooperative of Kamano 2 in Eastern Highlands province last Wednesday.


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