Logo: Solidarity South Pacific

Bad news for Bougainville

Postcourier, 18 Nov 04

Bougainville soon to be cocoa leader

BOUGAINVILLE will soon be the biggest cocoa producer in Papua New Guinea with 30 million cocoa trees set to be planted there by the end of this year.

And this will be further boosted by a push to build a cocoa factory on Bougainville.

Feasibility studies are already underway for a factory that will add value to the cocoa produced on the island.

Representatives from the Cocoa Board of Papua New Guinea, led by chief executive officer Lauatu Tautea, told cocoa farmers in Central Bougainville that the cocoa rehabilitation program undertaken by donor agencies and spearheaded by European Union and the United National Development Program (UNDP) had been extended to the end of this year after all stakeholders agreed.

Mr Tautea said Bougainville would concentrate on growing and exporting organic cocoa and cocoa farmers on the island already had a chance to earn K600 more per tonne above the price earned by nearest rival Indonesia.

He said cocoa could lead the way economically for the autonomous government of Bougainville but the farmers and buyers must maintain the quality of their cocoa.

Mr Tautea said under the autonomous government, Bougainville would have its own arrangements to export cocoa and would not worry too much about the cocoa factory that is proposed to be built in Lae, Morobe Province. Cocoa produced on Bougainville is currently exported through East New Britain Province and recorded as cocoa produced in ENB.

"If we are to get the premium price for cocoa produced on Bougainville, we must maintain quality right from the nursery to export," Mr Tautea said. "We have already got complaints from major cocoa buyers from the United States of America that the quality of cocoa has changed dramatically and this will not help our endeavour to export cocoa from Bougainville."

He said with the proposed cocoa factory in Lae, the Cocoa Board had opposed it as the project proponents have proposed to impose a 30 per cent export levy on all cocoa exported from PNG.

Bougainville produced 10,880 tonnes of cocoa in 2003 with Buka Island leading the production chart. Kieta District was second and Buin was third.

The other districts will start producing cocoa this year as trees planted under the cocoa rehabilitation program mature and start bearing cocoa seeds.