By Zachery Per

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 8) - The coffee industry has convinced Agriculture Minister Moses Maladina to agree to repeal a new amendment to the Coffee Industry Corporation Act that gives him sweeping powers.

The powers include giving Maladina powers to appoint CIC board members and issuing export licenses, which CIC argued would place the industry into a state of vulnerability.

After some very strong protestations by industry members that included growers, processors and exporters in Goroka on Monday, Mr Maladina told them that he would change the law if they did not want it. 

Mr Maladina met with industry representatives to gauge their views after he successfully moved for Parliament to amend various sections of the CIC Act last week that gave him overriding powers. 

During the meeting, Mr Maladina was also briefed on the problems faced by the industry.

The Coffee Plantations and Processors Association expressed grave concerns over the law and order problems and the deteriorating road infrastructure in rural areas that adversely impacted on coffee production.

CPPA president Bill Gordon and members said law and order problems of tribal conflicts and landowner issues where some of the major coffee plantations are located, usually affect smooth operation of plantations.

They told Mr Maladina in no uncertain terms that bad roads into coffee plantation and processing areas also affected their operations.

The cost of operating trucks and vehicles has doubled and could not last long enough to transport coffee, "we have to continuously replace spare parts and frequently struggle due to deteriorating road conditions", Mr Gordon said.

The CPPA also highlighted other associated problems of theft of coffee berries, lack of co-operation of tribal groups who benefit from their operation.

Small holders and block holders association also told Mr Maladina in a separate meeting that thousands of coffee bags produced last year (2002) were still lying in rural areas.

They said this was largely due to deteriorating road conditions and high freight cost.

They raised concerns that they were not consulted before the Minister amended the CIC Act in the last session. 

Mr Maladina urged them to talk with the special ministerial committee he set up to raise their views.

October 8, 2003

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