SYDNEY, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- The government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) will implement some new policies to boost the coffee growing industry in the Pacific Island country.
A statement from the Prime Minister's Office said on Sunday that the government will encourage as many families as possible within the 17 coffee-producing provinces to grow 2,500 trees per family.
"If one family can grow 2,500 trees, it can make between 21,000 Kina (about 5,938 U.S. dollars) and 25,000 Kina (about 7,070 U.S. dollars) per year to sustain itself," said PNG Prime Minister James Marape.
To encourage farmers' interest in this traditional cash corp, the government, beginning next year onwards, will make sure the price of coffee would not drop below 7 Kina (about 2 U.S. dollars) per kilogram with a number of agricultural support programs such as price support and freight subsidy to buffer against price drop.
Coffee is a crucial source of income for more than 2.5 million Papua New Guineans, according to a research from Australia's Curtin University in 2020. But despite its importance to rural livelihoods and the PNG economy, coffee production and quality has been in steady decline since the 1990s.
Moreover, dispersed smallholder farmers selling coffee individually to buyers reduces the farmers' bargaining power and creates further disincentive to produce good quality coffee.
Marape called on the provincial governments of Jiwaka, Western Highlands and Chimbu to begin working collaboratively on coffee with a view to opening up a special economic zone to develop this cash commodity further.
He also committed 5 million Kina (3.4 million U.S. dollars) to the provinces of Jiwaka and Western Highlands respectively, and 2 million Kina (1.4 million U.S. dollars) to each of the coffee-producing districts in Jiwaka to fund the coffee grow projects and to begin exploratory and preparatory work to coordinate and link all coffee growers. ■