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A cocoa co-operative society in the hinterland of Vanimo Green River district has temporarily stopped buying cocoa from small holder farmers because there is no market and transport challenges were overwhelming.
The Walsa Cocoa Co-operative Society in Imonda was a success story but market access is a huge concern.
Andrew Dahai, a local teacher and a volunteer facilitator of this five year community based project said: “Perhaps next year we would revive it.”
The co-operative society has 67 paid members who pooled K100 each and they sell their dried cocoa beans to the society at K3 per kilogram.
Dahai said on average a minimum of K60 to a maximum of K300 goes direct to farmers pockets who are then able to shop at the cooperative society’s trade store or pay school project fees.
He said they have halted buying of cocoa because transport costs for a bumpy five hours drive from Imonda to Vanimo then to Wutung (Batas) was burdening.
“We have a positive mindset to revive it and move forward,” Dahai said.
He said PNG Customs and NAQIA officials have also disallowed them to export to Indonesia through Wutung as they do not have an export license.
They were advised to use someone with an export license and they found one but Dahai said a fee of K3000 for every export is expensive for them.
When they were selling through Wutung, they did six sales with a maximum 5 tones earning K16,000.
They have now invested in integrated farming and cross breeding of livestock.
With the monies they have built an office, a workshop, canteen and three semi permanent buildings to house cooperative society staff.
A setting to marvel at in the evening at this remote outstation, they also have a motorbike and generator that lights up the place at the southern side of the Bewani Mountain range.
Dahai said the cooperative society has bought 3000 seedlings from Rabaul and distributed to farmers, after also building a necessary there.
They were able to start with a funding support from Sandaun Governor’s office, project development grants from logging and local level government.
Cocoa farmers now want a cocoa buyer based in Vanimo.