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By Denys Iorere

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National) – The PNG Cocoa
Board believes that cocoa production in the industry will increase significantly
if growers and farmers are supplied with seedlings from known nurseries.

These nurseries are found in East Sepik, East New Britain and
Buka in the North Solomon province.

PNG Cocoa Board chairman Jim Simatab said yesterday that the
priority now is to increase production by setting up seed nurseries immediately.

He suggested that with the existing seed nurseries, the industry
would put up some more in Northern and Central provinces, Karkar Island in the
Madang and West New Britain provinces as distribution points for the farmers and
growers to acquire the seeds.

He said the industry would ensure that the materials and seeds
are available to ensure that the growers and farmers are involved in economic

Mr Simitab said this in support previous sentiments expressed by
the PNG Cocoa Coconut Institution chairman Ken Fairweather early this week.

Mr Fairweather said earlier that the CCI Board and management
are strongly committed to the restoration of extension services for the benefit
of growers.

It would also ensure that research work is focused on the real
needs of both the coconut and cocoa industries.

Mr Fairweather said extension officers would be attached to seed
garden and nursery projects - so they can ensure growers get adequate seeds, and
support services.

He added research services would also be revitalised to ensure
they were better focused on the real needs of growers, and the coconut and cocoa

"As an example, the future of the coconut industry depends
on the use of coconuts for food and coconut oil production. 

"The worldwide demand for copra continues to decline, so we
have to adjust to the reality that coconut oil is the way of the future,"
said Mr Fairweather.

He added that the support for the development of village based
coconut oil industries would be a priority and cocoa research would particularly
focus on continuing to boost productivity.

He added that donor country and agency funds for extension
services and research work have dried up, due to poor performance in
implementing programs, or the completion of funded projects.

Mr Fairweather said the CCI would soon meet with donor countries
and agencies to rebuild their confidence in our capacity to implement funded
programs efficiently. 

"We are asking provincial governments if they want to
provide employment for extension and other staff who may be retrenched and all
staff, who are unable to be re-deployed will receive their full
entitlements," said Mr Fairweather.

September 25, 2003

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/


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