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New grants set to grow Bougainville’s cocoa industry

Cocoa farmer groups in Bougainville can now apply for grants that will support them to increase quantity, improve quality and get better access to markets.

This has been made possible through an initiative of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Governments of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, and implemented through the Bougainville Partnership’s Commodity Support Facility.

The announcement follows the completion of a first round of grants which supported 25 famers groups from 2017-2020.

Acting Secretary for the ABG Department of Primary Industries Henry Baraka announced that the government is very pleased and thankful that the program is continuing into a second phase.

“This program provides direct and tangible support to our Bougainvillean farmers and cooperatives,” he said.

“This support will not only improve cocoa production for farmers, but it will have broader benefits for our communities and the industry as a whole.”

“The program is also aligned with DPI’s strategic plans and objectives, including linkages to improve market access.”

Australian High Commissioner Jon Philp said the program is part of a partnership to foster agriculture and economic development in Bougainville.

“Australia is delighted to support this program’s continuation,” he said.

“Improving agricultural yields can play an important role in broader economic and social development.

“Strengthening the cocoa industry improves the livelihoods of individuals, helps to build stronger communities and contributes to Papua New Guinea as a whole.”

New Zealand High Commissioner Philip Taula shared similar sentiments saying that the Commodity Support Facility grants program is stronger than ever and will assist farmers to make sustainable improvements to their operations.

“Cocoa is an important industry in Bougainville,” he said.

“Alongside other agricultural commodities, the sector helps to drive sustainable economic development and boosts household incomes for families.

“New Zealand is proud to continue to partner with the Autonomous Bougainville Government, and the PNG and Australian governments to support the growth of the cocoa sector.”

Farmer groups have been encouraged to submit concepts to be considered for grants, which will be worth between K300,000-K500,000.

This round of grants will prioritise income generation activities for women and young people.

Past activities have included training on pre- and post-harvest cocoa block management, and business management and development.

Farmers groups have previously benefited from the construction and rehabilitation of fermentation and drying facilities, new farming tools and equipment, and the provision of pest-resistant seedlings.

They have also seen improvements to market access and transportation services, as well as boosts to cocoa quality and traceability.

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