Farmers sell 289 bags as a group

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BY JOAN BAILEY

FOR the first time, farmers from Lower Watut in Ward 25 of Wampar LLG, Huon Gulf District sold 289 bags of cocoa to Outspan Limited as a group.

Yarieng Bingiding, Lower Watut farmer and fermentation owner, said this in an interview after transporting 298 bags of cocoa from Wampan village to Outspan’s buying depot in Lae yesterday.

He said cocoa was introduced to them in 1985 and they were growing cocoa, but they were struggling to have good fermentation and access to market.

He said farmers are trying their best to sell their produce and with unreliable transportation, including high transport costs, farmers’ hope of earning enough income is still uncertain.

“The Cocoa Board helped us with information and processes to grow quality beans, so with their help we were able to buy fermentation worth 6,000K and 12,000K depending on preferred sizes,” said he declared.

“We now have four fermentations in the village and 150 cocoa farmers supply their wet cocoa beans to these fermentations.”

Mr Bingiding said there was no government support from all levels of government for cocoa farming and access to markets in the lower Watut but they are not giving up, they are struggling to respond to the quality and expense of selling their cocoa in Lae.

He said it was their first group sale and they were delighted but were worried about the price of cocoa which is not stable and still low.

“We pay 40K for each bag of cocoa on a dugout canoe powered by a 40 horsepower machine along the Watut and Markham rivers to reach the waterfront before boarding a PMV truck and paying 5K per bag to reach the 40 mile market.

“At 40 miles, we pay 15K for each bag of cocoa to transport them to the exporter’s depot, including our tariffs, so I think we are still making losses,” Mr Bingiding said.

He said after selling their bags of cocoa for 340K or 360K, what they earn is not enough to meet their daily expenses.

He said they needed road access to reduce freight, otherwise they didn’t need to change transportation en route, but traveled easily instead of traveling for days to Lae. to sell their cocoa, because for this trip, the bags of cocoa traveled in groups. since last Sunday and they arrived at the depot yesterday for payment.

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