COFFEE BREAKTHROUGH BY PNG SCIENTISTS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 24, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---A major breakthrough by Papua New Guinea scientists at the Coffee Industry Corporation's Omuru substation near Madang has led to the development of a coffee variety which can increase yields per hectare threefold.

The new variety holds out great promise for farmers in lowland areas of PNG who will be able to emulate the Arabica coffee growing success story experienced especially by smallholders in the Highlands region.

Seedlings of the new Robusta variety will be widely distributed early next year, helping to boost the country's export earnings and creating opportunities for downstream processing of instant coffee.

CIC chairman Pugma Kopi said Robusta coffee currently contributes about five percent of PNG's K 500 million (US$ 164 million) coffee industry, with Arabica making up the remaining 95 percent.

"If this land on the lowlands is mobilized with Robusta coffee, it will be a big step towards downstream processing of instant coffee, as Robusta coffee is the essential ingredient in the production of instant coffee."

There was inadequate Robusta coffee production in the past for manufacture of instant coffee.

Mr. Kopi said: "The CIC is now working on mass propagating and distributing the new Robusta coffee variety, and is planning to approach the government at both national and provincial level to assist by way of funds.

"The traditional Robusta variety of Besoeki gives a yield of about 0.8 tons of green bean per hectare, as compared to the new variety named Omuru, which gives up to 2.4 tons of green bean per hectare and above."

Papua New Guinean scientists have worked with new Robusta materials since 1987 and found that yields of a new variety from Vanuatu performed better than the local variety.

Mr. Kopi said two clones were selected for release to farmers based on their yield of two tons and more of green bean per hectare and drug-resistance qualities. Some free pollinated trees gave yields of more than four tons per hectare, he said.

Propagators of rooted cuttings will be built at Aiyura in Eastern Highlands and Omuru in Madang with the plants subsequently to be distributed to farmers.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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