THE WORLD Bank will invest an additional US$30 million in funding to Papua New Guinea’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP), PNG’s single largest agriculture initiative.

World Bank directors approved the capital injection in February, bolstering an initiative set up to benefit thousands of coffee and cocoa farmers in PNG.

PPAP works with smallholder farmers to double yield and improve the quality of their coffee and cocoa, and increase their incomes.

With the additional financing, PPAP will aim to double the current number of partnerships from 25 to 50; increase services to participating farmers, including nutrition and literacy training and increase its support to women farmers.

The funding is expected to benefit up to 60,000 coffee and cocoa farmers and their families.

“PPAP is a hugely important initiative, designed to help thousands of growers get higher earnings from their produce,” World Bank PNG country manager Laura Bailey said,

“It is also providing a critical boost to the coffee and cocoa industries which remain significant forces for the economy.”

More than 85 per cent of the country’s population lives in rural areas and most depend on small-scale agriculture for their food and livelihoods. Coffee and cocoa are two major cash crops which provide critical income for more than half a million households.

According to the World Bank, PNG’s coffee and cocoa production have both declined over the last decade as a result of a range of factors, including a lack of extension services in many areas; inadequate replanting; and the devastating impact of cocoa pod borer (CPB).

PNG’s main cocoa producing province, East New Britain, saw an 80% drop in production between 2008 and 2012 after the arrival of the CPB.

In CPB-affected areas, partnerships are providing training and demonstrations to help farmers manage the pest by planting hybrid plants which are more CPB resistant.

Such measures have been shown to eliminate as much as 98% of infestation.

This year, PPAP will also start rehabilitating and improving maintenance of up to 200 kilometre rural roads to improve farmers’ access to markets in selected areas.

The project is also providing institutional support to the Cocoa Board and Coffee Industry Corporation to improve coordination of the industries and the sustainability of the project.

The additional financing is being provided by an IDA credit of US$30 million with US$6.4 million from the European Union, US$4.5 million from the Government of Papua New Guinea, and more than US$10 million from the private sector, bringing the total value of the project to just under US$51 million.

The International Fund for Agriculture Development, a current donor to the project, is expected to provide further support.

The project will run until 2019. PPAP is currently working in six provinces – East New Britain Province, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Eastern Highlands Province, Western Highlands Province, Jiwaka Province and Simbu Province – with possible expansion to other areas subject to new funds.

Break out box

Putting PNG’s coffee on the map

WHILE Papua New Guinea has some of the best coffee, the country only accounts for about 1 percent of the world’s coffee production, says the World Bank.

However, many exporters and buyers see great potential for Papua New Guinean coffee, particularly if growers – around 90% of whom are smallholders – can capture niche markets. The World Bank said this could enable farmers to capture a higher price for their produce, and ultimately, increase consumer recognition of a PNG “brand”.

Productive Partnerships Agriculture Project (PPAP) project manager David Freyne said the industry was facing some challenges when in its bid to put itself on the world coffee map.

The World Bank said this was why high hopes had been raised for the large-scale agricultural project, funded by the World Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development.

The project is working with key players in PNG’s coffee industry by forming partnerships with farmers in all the major coffee-producing provinces, to help replant and rejuvenate their coffee gardens to increase their income, and improve sustainability through quality standards and certification. It is also working with the Coffee Industry Cooperation as they develop strategies and a vision for the PNG coffee brand.

Many farmers are already benefiting from the first round of the project, noticing improvements in their coffee gardens, reports the World Bank.

Pastor Wilson is among those in Western Highlands province who have received training in coffee management, as well as planting materials.

“Before, the coffee wasn’t good,” he was quoted as saying.

“The trees were dry and the leaves had vanished. I harvested some good coffee this year, and added more kilos because the coffee came back to life again.”

It is hoped that these kinds of activities can be replicated across PPAP partnerships. To date, 13 coffee projects are either starting or are into their first year of implementation– expected to benefit 11,600 farmers and their families.