THE people of rural Simbai LLG in the Middle Ramu District of Madang Province are in dire need of a serviceable road to sell their coffee produce.
At present farmers and their wives walk for two days with 60kg coffee bags to Lower Ramu to get a motored canoe to Madang.
Over 500 farmers and their families gathered at Gonas Village in the Kongrau area and overwhelmingly voiced this concern to representatives of Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) this month.
Coffee is the major source of income for the remote inland people of Simbai who are scattered over mountains bordering Western Highlands, Jiwaka, Angoram District of East Sepik and Usino Bundi LLG, Madang Province.
Lack of road access is a major obstacle depriving the farmers to return to their gardens. Consequently the farmers have been neglecting their coffee gardens, but are now returning to rehabilitate their coffee gardens with the help of PPAP.
“Without coffee we’re nothing. But we small farmers do not have the money to get our coffee bags on MAF charter flights to Madang or Mt Hagen to sell,” says councillors John Gis and Jerry Akij when welcoming the PPAP team at Gonas Village on Tuesday, 10 May.
“Ol meri em ol transport blong mipela ya. Ol save helpim mipela long karim kofi go olgeta long Ramu. Pls sori long ol mama na bikpela pikinini meri blong mipela” (Our women are our transport. They help us to carry coffee all the way to Ramu. Please help our mothers and elder daughters), adds Momnai Malakai, Kongrau community police officer.
The villagers were overwhelmed with the PPAP intervention to rehabilitate their coffee gardens.
The Anglican Church of PNG (ACPNG) as PPAP’s Lead Partner in Simbai has been distributing coffee pulping machines and other basic tools to 877 farmers under call 2 proposals.
Extension officers working for the Lead Partner are also helping to train farmers to prune coffee trees which have been neglected for years.
The farmers’ atmost concern is road access to sell their coffee. The only road connecting Simbai to Madang town has been left abandoned following collapse of several bridges and land slips.
The PPAP project manager Potaisa Hombunaka says one way for farmers to sell their coffee is through group marketing which PPAP and Lead Partner ACPNG is considering.
The PPAP is a coffee rehabilitation initiative of Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) funded by a loan facility from World Bank IDA (International Development Association) and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) with counter-funding from GoPNG.
Land slip destroying a section of the Ramu-Simbai road.