Enriching PNG’s cocoa industry

Papua New Guinea’s cocoa industry is set to enhance its presence in international markets thanks to recent investment targeted at reducing smoke taint and improving cocoa quality.

The PNG Cocoa Board is working with the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus Program (PHAMA Plus) to enhance opportunities for cocoa-growing communities in PNG to access niche international markets.

Through the support of Australia and New Zealand, PHAMA Plus has been in collaboration with the PNG Cocoa Board since 2015, providing training in innovative farming practices that maximise profitability and income and maintain a sustainable value chain to improve international competitiveness for PNG sourced cocoa.

Smoke taint is a by-product of traditional wood-fired kiln driers, a key issue the partnership is working to address. PNG is a longstanding producer of high-quality cocoa on the global market; however, due to smoke taint affecting the flavour of cocoa, PNG’s fine flavour status was recently reduced (from 90 percent to 75 percent) by the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO).

This directly impacts the premiums paid for cocoa and influences the value of trade from international niche and specialty cocoa buyers.

Recently, 57 local farmers and their team leaders in Lower Watut, Morobe Province and Aitape, West Sepik Province attended training sessions delivered by Cocoa Board officers on the correct post-harvest practices to better understand key stages of primary processing of cocoa, including harvesting, transportation, fermentation, drying and storage. Proper implementation of these steps is paramount to producing high-quality cocoa. This training follows the installation of solar and kiln combination dryers in each region.

Cocoa Board of PNG Postharvest & Quality Assurance Program Team Leader Kenny Francis said, “With the right guidance and support, these farmer groups have the potential to consistently produce high-end cocoa fit for niche markets.”

PHAMA Plus continues to support the PNG cocoa industry and the ongoing work across the coconut and coffee sectors represents a multipronged approach to boosting PNG trade and prosperity. Both parties are committed to providing an enabling environment for all players along the cocoa value chain by making available conducive industry policies, marketing and support.

*For more information, please contact PHAMA Plus Country Manager (PNG) Sidney Suma s.suma@phamaplus.com.au

Sign up today for the latest news