Cocoa farmers in Talasea District, West New Britain Province now have access to information resources that will improve their understanding of their rights and responsibilities in developing their local cocoa industry.
Support was recently provided to farmers as part of an Australian Government C4D initiative designed to empower farmers through information sharing in meaningful ways leading to long term behavioural change.
The resources included pull-up banners, flipcharts and leaflets that promote key messages around the importance of awareness, empowerment, collaboration and conservation to better manage the rehabilitation project.
It is expected that the increased awareness and empowerment will lead to a greater collective farmer’s voice and accountability in the district as they work together with other industry stakeholders in the Provincial Administration and private sector.
The Talasea Cocoa Rehabilitation Project is being co-funded under the Australian Government’s Decentralisation and Citizen Participation Partnership (DCP) Kina + Kina Project with partner funding from the Talasea District.
The Talasea District Administration has formed a Local Project Implementation Team (LPIT) and has identified three locations for cocoa resources centres to create economic opportunities for the district to diversify the local economy away from its heavy reliance on the oil palm industry.
The C4D communications material which was launched during a formal ceremony at a nursery site in Dagi agriculture station, outside Kimbe town forms links between the Local Project Implementation Team (LPIT), the Cocoa Resources Centres, Cocoa Board and the cocoa farmers.
The launch of the material was an initiative of the current member of Talasea and Governor for West New Britain, Hon. Francis Galia Maneke with the support from the Australian Government.
The event was witnessed by representatives of the Australian High Commission and the WNB Provincial Government, private sector, PNG Cocoa Board, churches, community groups, schools, farmers and cocoa exporters.
Kate Phillips, third Secretary, Decentralisation Program from the Australian High Commission acknowledged the partnership between Australia and PNG in decentralizing services to drive local economic and community development.
‘’This cocoa rehabilitation project will help more Talasea people take advantage of the district’s strong private sector and economic base. This project is possible because of Talasea’s strong leadership commitment to improve local governance, clearly defined local priorities and willingness to create new economic opportunities for their people.’’ said Ms. Phillips.
A key feature of this project is the Kina plus Kina scheme – a co-funded program between the Talasea district and Australian Government to rehabilitate cocoa as an alternative cash crop to palm oil. Under the project, a Cocoa Resource Centre will be built in three LLG sites in Kapore, Salelebu and Bali respectively, providing a venue for improved collaboration between local farmers and relevant stakeholders at district and provincial levels.
District Administrator, Leo Mapmani said that the rehabilitation program is seen as a way forward for its farmers to diversify cash crop production and provide real benefits for the people.
‘’In the last 4 years the DCP Program has provided governance and capacity building programs for our people.
“The cocoa rehabilitation program through DCP, is one area which is anticipated to improve our livelihoods and create wealth, economic empowerment and provide opportunities for our people to earn a better income.
“Cocoa is not labour intensive, and I would like to encourage you all to make the most of it,’’ said Mr. Mapmani.”